Fediverso: what it is, how it works, features and examples

Talking about the fediverse is not a simple matter. In general, it refers to an interconnected set of servers capable of communicating with each other. Within it, it is possible to upload and exchange images, videos, texts, or applications without being tied to any specific account or social network.

Before diving into the explanation, it’s useful to know that the fediverse is part of a larger category still relatively unknown to the general public but promises to be the future of the digital era.
This category is called Blockchain, a technology that leverages the characteristics of a computer network. With this, it becomes possible to manage, in a unique and secure manner, a register of data and information without a central controlling entity.

Certainly, in the world of the fediverse, Mastodon stands out as the most well-known and widespread self-hosted network that utilizes this principle.

The alternative to Twitter, in fact, is nothing more than a free platform that allows you to create a profile and interact with other users within the network.

As you continue reading, you will have the opportunity to delve deeper into the topic. In particular, you will find information about:

  • what the federated universe is and how it works;
  • the main characteristics of the fediverse;
  • examples of decentralized social networks.

To have a complete understanding of what this new frontier of the web is and its countless job prospects, I recommend getting educated to become a blockchain professional.
Studying through highly qualified courses can open doors to highly competitive business opportunities.

What is the Fediverse

The term “Fediverse” is a combination of the words “federation” and “universe” and it refers to a computer network between servers and software applications that enables the exchange of information through a common protocol.
You should know that one of the characteristics of the federated universe is to facilitate interaction across different self-hosted social networks using a single identity.

This is possible because the Fediverse is composed of a series of independent but interconnected servers forming a large network.
Therefore, this system offers users greater autonomy in being able to view, comment, and interact without being influenced by cookies, except for strictly necessary ones.

In essence, the function of the fediverse is to allow users to connect with each other without being tied to a specific domain or account.

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How the Fediverse works

The breakthrough brought about by the federated universe lies in the ability of users to contact others, even if they are not part of the same server or, to simplify, the same social network.
All this is possible because the software supporting the fediverse is called open source, meaning it can communicate with others.

Below you will find step-by-step information to better understand how the federated universe works, so that you can access it safely and start interacting with over 6 million users.

Identities

To enter the fediverse, it is necessary to create an identity. To simplify, it could be defined as a profile, although it does not behave like one. This is because an identity is free to interact with all connected servers without any restrictions.

As a comparison, identities are like email addresses through which users can communicate with each other regardless of the email provider.
To generate an identity, it is necessary to rely on a platform and a server, the latter being nothing more than a group of users that form it.

Therefore, since they are owned by individuals, servers establish their own policies to be followed within them, such as the prohibition of publishing racist or discriminatory content.

Those who disagree with the rules of a specific server are always free to move to another one without losing their identity and their followers.

Instances

An instance is a server within an open-source platform (such as Mastodon) that allows users to communicate with both other instances within the same platform and outside of it.
In order to use and interact with an instance, the user must be registered with an identity, which is unique throughout the fediverse.

The aspect of the user’s name that is displayed to others is similar to an email address, with the only difference being that the at sign (@) is also inserted at the beginning of the name.

fediverse requests

But how do you choose an instance? Once you have chosen a decentralized social channel, to create your identity, you need to identify the active instances. To select the most suitable instance for your profile, let me give you some advice:

  • Do not choose a very small instance, as it may disappear overnight.
  • Look for Italian or European Union instances, as they are more respectful of privacy and various regulations.
  • Avoid instances that are too politicized and polarized, as they carry a high risk of being banned.

Communication Protocols

To be able to communicate with each other, the platforms on which the servers are based need a common language to understand each other, essentially a standard that allows interaction between them.
The most commonly used protocol within the fediverse is ActivityPub, which enables the receiving and sending of information.

Specifically, its role is to enable a series of functions typical of social channels through APIs. This way, a server can freely communicate with all others in the network.

Each user has an inbox and an outbox within the server to interact with all other users.

Key Features of the Fediverse

The decentralized nature of the fediverse constitutes a valid alternative to traditional social media.
What sets the federated universe apart is primarily the protection of users’ privacy. In the fediverse, privacy is respected because data and searches are not monitored by a centralized system.

This means that user preferences and choices are not analyzed to create a profile that can be used for targeted advertising or to manipulate user decisions.
Furthermore, a federated system and a centralized system like those of social media platforms differ because in a proprietary, centralized, and closed platform such as Facebook or Twitter, users are bound to them without any possibility of interacting outside. With the fediverse, on the other hand, there are no limits on commenting or reading posts written on other servers.

fediverse features

Therefore, the fediverse provides great freedom in terms of interoperability. The content to follow is not chosen and filtered by an algorithm as it is on traditional social media based on what is displayed.

It is the user who decides what and how to choose or follow a particular topic. In practice, individuals determine what the most interesting content and posts are.

Finally, servers and platforms are self-funded and do not rely on monetizing with advertisements, which is why there is a complete lack of advertising. Interaction in the fediverse is free from ads, unlike traditional social media platforms.

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3 Examples of Decentralized Social Networks

As mentioned earlier, the decentralized system of the fediverse with its independent servers is gradually emerging as an alternative to all well-known centralized platforms.
Certainly, the most well-known decentralized open-source platform is Mastodon, which is very similar to Twitter and experienced a surge in registrations following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the latter.
But there are other lesser-known and less frequented ones that can serve as a valid alternative for those who wish to detach themselves from traditional social media. Among the most well-known are:

  • Friendica: positioned as one of the most valid alternatives to Facebook, leveraging the ActivityPub protocol. As a decentralized digital space, it is managed by independent developers. One of its features is interoperability, as users can view content from other platforms within their feed.
  • Pixelfed: an alternative to Instagram, featuring a chronological feed interface. It allows for graphic processing of photos through the application of filters. Being a decentralized platform, it does not have advertisements.
  • PeerTube: a decentralized version of YouTube, enabling the publication and sharing of videos among different servers in the fediverse.

Conclusions

The digital spaces of the fediverse thus represent a new mode of online communication. While decentralized platforms offer several advantages over traditional social media, such as privacy protection, it is also important to be aware of possible negative aspects.

Among these is certainly the lack of company due to the difficulty of finding friends or acquaintances within the various fediverses. However, this should not discourage those who feel ready to join the federated universe.

Furthermore, the absence of subscribed rules should not encourage actions aimed at misinformation or other negative behaviors. In conclusion, the fediverse should be seen as a new opportunity for a return to the intelligent use of technology present on the web.

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Lisa Bencivenni

Lisa Bencivenni

Born in Bologna, I have a Master in Marketing and Communication and professional experience in digital marketing in Barcelona where I lived for six years. My curiosity drives me to learn new things: aspiring SEO specialist, passionate about basketball, travel and communication.

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