Why the Fediverse is important for the future of Social Media

Image of a web showing different federated platforms connected to each other

The Usual Scenario...

Oh, cool! A new Social Media platform has popped up! Is this a general thing or some genre-specific thing like an artist-only space? Everyone I know is moving to it! However, this will be another account for me to manage. And oh no! It's another login I need to keep track of! I will need to link this alongside all of my other accounts, too... And I will need to repost the same stuff across these platforms because everyone not a part of this one platform can't interact or even view in some places...

However, it doesn't need to be like this

There's a better way this could be done. Where you could use your single account from platform A to talk to someone on platform B, even if they are completely different social media platforms for different purposes.

That's where Federated Social Media comes into play. Social Media corporations or even yourself or others, can run a website that allows for communicating with other social media websites that implement ActivityPub, the protocol that allows all of this to happen! > In networking, a protocol is an agreed-upon way of sending messages back and forth so that neither correspondent will get too confused.

There are already social media websites that implement this that have been around for a while. You may or may not have heard of one of them, Mastodon: one of the most popular implementations of this protocol. But there are other platforms like Pixelfed, Misskey, even Tumblr is working on implementing ActivityPub, Threads by Facebook has partial support, and Flipboard has gone all in; meaning you can talk to or view anyone on one of these or other websites that implement this protocol! These websites that implement the protocol are usually referred to as an “Instance” or “Server”. These interacting servers are most commonly known as the Fediverse! (Federated Universe)

You may have heard of instances or servers compared to something like Discord servers, however, I think that this is a confusing comparison. Because unlike Discord servers, these instances that are hosted by a company or individual themselves, are still able to communicate across servers. It doesn't matter where you sign up, even if the servers are for completely different purposes or topics. However, some servers may choose to completely block interactions with another for violating their own rules or terms of service.

But, that's not all. Federated platforms aren't limited to just Microblogging (short posts) or image sharing. Entire blogs from platforms like WriteFreely (what this article is written on!) (or from a Wordpress plugin) can be read; you can be notified of streams happening from Owncast, videos from Peertube, music from FunkWhale, right from the timeline of your own server!

In the microblogging space, some of these platforms even have extra features not found in Mastodon*, like custom emoji reactions to posts and quotes (In Mastodon, they are just shown as favorites and links). * Some servers use modifications of the Mastodon software that implement the above features

This sounds awesome! How do I join?

All you need to do is find a social media website that is federated with ActivityPub, sign up, and you're in! Since it's the most popular and most well-developed, you can try to find a Mastodon server from its servers list. Do not worry about which one you choose, because you can always move your account with all of your followers to another server later on! If you know someone who may already be on the Fediverse, you can even ask them for an invite if their server allows it.

I personally think it can be a good idea to start on a larger general-purpose server where you can then later move your account to a smaller website, with a more tight-nit community that you might find yourself enjoying more :)

Some other platforms you can join with individual servers include Pixelfed, Misskey, Friendica, and possibly others.

Some servers may have their own rules, look, character limits, platform (as mentioned above), etc. The beauty of federated platforms is that you can always use whatever you prefer, and you are still able to talk with others :)

So, why hasn't this become the norm?

The short, funny, most likely exactly it answer: Captisisilsism


But seriously, there can be a few reasons. For a long time these platforms have been seen as under developed or difficult to use. However, I do think that things are improving.

Companies with their centralized platforms are always trying to keep you inside of their bubble. Twitter at one point had even gone as far as to block any mention of other platforms.

In the past, similar decentralized protocols have been used. Google used to embrace XMPP, a protocol similar to ActivityPub but for instant messaging, however ended its support when switching to their new, centralized service. This has been part of the reason why XMPP is not as often used anymore. Google even mentioned in the link that the XMPP protocol was an industry standard.

A similar practice is also known as Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish:

“internally by Microsoft to describe its strategy for entering product categories involving widely used open standards, extending those standards with proprietary capabilities, and using the differences to strongly disadvantage its competitors.” Other sources are linked in Wikipedia.

A lot of this is done because of the drive to keep you on their own site, to force you to see more advertisements, and in the end for them to make more money. Because to them, you are seen as a product.

That's the great thing about smaller federated servers hosted by dedicated individuals. They really care about making their little community a safe, and usually ad-free space (most with donations). Where you can truly socialize, where you don't have to worry about how long you're looking at a post for some algorithm to determine what you like or not.

Read More & other fediverse-related links: https://fediverse.info/ https://fedidb.org/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fediverse

#Fediverse #Mastodon #Pixelfed #Misskey #Tumblr #Flipboard #Wordpress #Federation #ActivityPub

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