About the Fediverse

Fediverse

The Fediverse (a portmanteau of "federation" and "universe") is an ensemble of federated (i.e. interconnected) servers that are used for web publishing (i.e. social networking, microblogging, blogging, or websites) and file hosting, but which, while independently hosted, can communicate with each other. On different servers (instances), users can create so-called identities. These identities are able to communicate over the boundaries of the instances because the software running on the servers supports one or more communication protocols which follow an open standard. As an identity on the fediverse, users are able to post text and other media, or to follow posts by other identities. In some cases, users can even show or share data (video, audio, text, and other files) publicly or to a selected group of identities and allow other identities to edit other users' data (such as a calendar or an address book).

History

In 2008, the social network identi.ca was founded by Evan Prodromou. He published the software GNU social under a free license (GNU Affero General Public License, AGPL). It defined the OStatus protocol. Besides the server, identi.ca, there were only few other instances, run by persons for their own use. This changed in 2011–12 when identi.ca switched to another software called pump.io. Several new GNU social instances were created. At the same time as GNU social, other projects like Friendica, Hubzilla, Mastodon, and Pleroma integrated the OStatus protocol, thus extending the fediverse. In the meantime, other communication protocols evolved which were integrated to different degrees into the platforms

In January 2018, the W3C presented the ActivityPub protocol, aiming to improve the interoperability between the platforms. As of August 2018, this protocol was supported by thirteen platforms, and was the dominant protocol used in the fediverse.

Communication Protocols

Some federated social media platforms and how they interconnect

These communication protocols, which implement open standards, are used in the fediverse:

  • ActivityPub
  • Diaspora Network
  • Matrix
  • OStatus
  • Zot & Zot/6