Due to current events, we've been able to see the effects of Big Tech in a way many feared. Those who predicted the purge were criticized and relegated to the fringes of society. Many people are now forced to abruptly transition away from Big Tech. Many others who did not get purged are seeing the light, seeking a backup plan, and want a smooth transition. This article will focus on the social media transition into the fediverse!
What is the fediverse? The fediverse is a decentralized, federated social media service hosted by individuals and organizations. With most Big Tech services, all of the data is stored at a central facility or maybe in some select data centers around the world. With a fediverse, the software is open-source allowing anyone to host an instance, and data within that instance is hosted on someone's hardware. You're able to communicate not only with others on that instance but also anyone within the entire fediverse barring a few exceptions. There are pros and cons that you need to be aware of when using the fediverse.
What are the pros?
‣ All data is hosted on the server instance that you signed up with. You're able to sign up for a server in a country which has strict data privacy laws, your own country, or communities with a privacy-centric culture.
‣ Most software is open-source which means it is free for anyone to setup and use anywhere. Because it is open-source, features are being added all of the time.
‣ There are no algorithms for you to be placed in "Facebook jail". All items come to you in a chronological order. This means you can reply to someone's birthday in a timely fashion instead of seeing a post about it a week later.
‣ No advertisements are used. The fediverse does not game your feeds for advertisements since you are not the product. There is a con to this listed below.
‣ Most instances are actively moderated with unique terms of service for every one. Some prohibit pornography, inflammatory statements against individuals or groups, violence, promotion of authoritarian governments, doxxing, and spam.
‣ You can be anonymous. These services don't require your real name, phone number, or birthday. All you need is an email address, username, and password to get started. As a matter of fact, you can be banned from releasing someone's personal info.
What are the cons?
‣ All instances need money. There are costs to keeping the servers running. Many servers appreciate donations and often have fundraising goals. This is one of the downsides when you are not being sold to advertisers.
‣ There are no algorithms for finding people, posts, groups, etc… When you start out, it will be incredibly lonely with a subscription to a couple of default accounts. You have to build up your following with a #newhere or #introduction post to get oriented within the community. It can be slow at first. You can also subscribe to posts with certain hashtags equivalent to Facebook groups.
‣ Other servers can be censored who don't follow your server's terms of service.
‣ Some servers can shut down when money or time runs out for the people who maintain the instance.
Let's get started comparing the different services!
Replacing Twitter ❯
Mastodon is the most popular replacement for Twitter. You can "toot" up to 500 characters. URLs are counted as 23 characters regardless of length. You can place content warnings (a.k.a spoiler alerts), custom emoji (depends on your community), polls, and publishing levels with your toots. Some communities target different groups and people. It uses the dark theme by default and there's no way to change it.
When you get started, post an #introduction about yourself and your interests in hashtags.
Replacing Facebook ❯
diaspora* is a good replacement that combines the best features in Facebook and defunct Google+. When you begin, start with a #newhere post to introduce yourself to the community. You can follow hashtags as a replacement for Facebook Groups. The aspects feature allows you to post only with certain people just like how circles worked with Google+. Unlike Facebook, you're posts can be formatted using Markdown to make your posts really shine. This tutorial should help you thru the signup process. You can like posts; however, comments cannot be liked.
Friendica integrates with multiple fediverses and protocols including Mastodon, diaspora*, Hubzilla, GNU Social, and others. This way you can communicate with multiple fediverses using one client. It has many features that are in common with all and can even publish using rich text formatting.
Hubzilla is another replacement, although not as widely known. It has many of the features that diaspora* has. Check out their demo first to get acquainted. You'll want to use a search engine to find a Hubzilla server to join.
This is a general overview of what a fediverse is, the most popular fediverses, and is not meant to be a complete listing. If you would like more information on each fediverse, check out https://fediverse.party/.