Federated social networks

I’ve been exploring Mastodon which is like a community-owned and ad-free Twitter. It’s an open source social network. There is no one person, company or server running it. People can create their own version of Mastodon, which is called an instance. The person, group or community doing so can determine which are the rules to be followed on that particular instance. Even though the instances are privately owned, users can still communicate with others on other instances.

This means that Mastodon cannot go bankrupt and disappear. An instance can stop because of lack of financing or because the person/community involved give it up, but the other instances would not go down because of that. There are more than a million registered users now.

The design of Mastodon is very user-friendly, Tweetdeck-like. Talking about Twitter, there’s also a way to find Twitter-friends using Mastodon.

Mastodon uses the standard protocol ActivityPub and is part of Fediverse (federation & universe) which basically is a bunch of interoperable federated social networks: Mastodon, diaspora, Friendica, Hubzilla, GNU Social, Socialhome, GangGo, postActiv, Pleroma, Misskey, PeerTube, Osada.

Of course, also in this universe there are moderation problems, fake news messages, and lots of discussions about the best technological routes to follow. Outside of the universe people point out that the commercial social networks are so much bigger. Even so, federated social networks seem to grow rapidly and they are fascinating – every instance being a bit like a virtual world. You can follow me on @rolandlegrand@mastodon.social.

Maybe I’ll create my very own instance, but then I’ll have to decide whether to use a hosted solution or to do the hosting myself, running my own server – something we’ll discuss in more detail in the E-Learning 3.0 course (#el30).

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