Interconnected; federated; ActivityPub: what do they mean?
The fediverse is gaining attraction from users around the World. Touted as a friendly alternative to mainstream social media, users are beginning to resist the repeated injustices, which is becoming rampant in platforms such as Facebook.
They’ve chosen to join the fediverse, which is a decentralised social media alternative.
But what is the fediverse? How does it work? In this blog post, I’ll try to explain some of the important concepts behind the fediverse.
It’s actually very simple.
The fediverse is an interconnected set of social media instances, forming a network of social media platforms. This is then considered as one social media platform, where users from compliant social media platforms can communicate, without having to have an account on the same instance.
Let’s pick a popular medium: email. You’ve probably used email. First off, to email someone, you need their email address:
You can use that address to send an email to Jane, regardless of which email server you use.
Federated social media follows that concept. Users can create an account on any instance, and chat with people from any other instance.
Let’s pick an example: Michael has decided to join the fediverse. His address looks something like this:
Michael has created an account on the fediverse, using the
If people want to follow Michael on the fediverse, they will have to refer to his full handle (
As the fediverse does not consist of one server (it’s instead thousands of servers, owned by different people), this is required.
Federation, in the context of decentralised social media, refers to the interconnection of multiple servers. As we’ve seen above, servers across the fediverse can talk to eachother.
This is conceptually different to platforms such as Twitter, where you’re either on the Twitter-owned platform, or you’re not.
In the fediverse, you can join one server, and interconnect with anyone on it. You can share, like, favourite or boost their posts.
Federation is owned by thousands of people around the World, and more and more people are beginning to realise how powerful federated social media really is.
Centralisation: the concentration of administrative power in a central government, authority, etc.
Decentralisation is the opposite. Instead of being owned by one person, anyone can create their part of the fediverse, and join in with users across the globe.
Anyone can host their own server in the fediverse, and talk to people on other servers.
So, you may be thinking: is Mastodon the fediverse?
Mastodon is an implementation of ActivityPub, a standard that tells servers how to talk to eachother.
ActivityPub is used when you favourite, boost, share or respond to a toot, which is a post on Mastodon.
ActivityPub is the baseline for many servers in the fediverse. Without a standard, independent servers would not be able to share data, rendering federation useless.
Federation is the opposite of centralisation. Instead of relying on a central service, people can use separate isntances, which intermingle with each other.
Federation fixes many problems, such as stretched-out moderation, data control, and freedom of choice.
But it isn’t perfect.