What is the Fediverse? A guide for publishers and the uninitiated.

Traditional social media, as most people know it, is extremely popular for several reasons. It’s an easy way for individuals to keep up with the news and interact with others. For publishers, it’s a platform to share content with millions.

The downside of social media platforms is that large corporations like Meta and Google control the flow of information behind the scenes, making publishers and users feel like they do not have control over their data and the content they are shown. Not to mention that a simple change in social media algorithms can significantly impact a publisher’s bottom line.

What alternatives exist? Let us introduce you to the Fediverse: a decentralised network of many interconnected social media platforms.

Introduction to the Fediverse for Publishers

The Fediverse uses a shared protocol called ActivityPub to seamlessly connect social platforms. In practice, this allows users to consume and interact with content across different platforms: imagine if you could like, comment and share content across different social media platforms. That is possible on the Fediverse.

What is the ActivityPub protocol?

In simple terms, ActivityPub is the technology that enables different online platforms to communicate with each other. Think of it as the email of social media: just as email protocols allow Gmail users to send emails to Outlook users, ActivityPub lets users on different social networks interact seamlessly​​.

This innovative approach eliminates the traditional barriers that centralised platforms impose. The Fediverse grants publishers freedom from the constraints of a single platform’s policies and algorithms, giving them autonomy and data sovereignty. The decentralised landscape of the Fediverse shifts the power back to the users and publishers, creating a more open and inclusive digital experience. By exploring the Fediverse, publishers can reach a broader audience, fostering direct connections with communities across this decentralised digital ecosystem.

There are many different types of social media based on the ActivityPub protocol that can all interact with each other. A few of the most popular ones include:

·  Microblogging: Mastodon (similar to X)

·  Video hosting: Peertube (similar to YouTube)

·  Image hosting: Pixelfed (similar to Instagram)

·  Link aggregator: Lemmy (similar to Reddit)

Understanding the Appeal of the Fediverse

  • Decentralisation: The Fediverse is built on principles that challenge the status quo of social media. Decentralisation ensures that no single entity controls the network. This allows for an environment where users and publishers have greater autonomy over their content and interactions. Interoperability between different platforms is made possible by protocols like ActivityPub, allowing seamless communication across the Fediverse’s varied landscapes.
  • Gaining control: The Fediverse offers a unique proposition for news organisations. The decentralised nature of the network can help mitigate the influence of algorithmic curation and corporate policies that often govern visibility and engagement on mainstream platforms. This environment broadens reach and enhances audience engagement by connecting publishers directly with their readership more openly and transparently. The Fediverse’s structure also promotes user privacy and data control, aligning with growing public concern over data sovereignty and digital rights.
  • Interoperability: ActivityPub facilitates interactions across different platforms. For a news publisher, this means your content can be shared, commented on, and liked by users on various social media networks that adopt ActivityPub. This interoperability expands your content’s reach beyond the confines of any single platform.
  • Freedom from the limits of any single platform: By participating in a decentralised network, you’re not limited by the features, policies, or algorithms of any single platform. You have the flexibility to innovate and tailor your digital presence to serve your audience and editorial mission better​.
  • ​​Fostering a community feeling: The federated nature of ActivityPub-powered networks fosters a sense of community and ownership among users. For publishers, this means the potential for deeper and more meaningful engagement with their audience​.

Case studies: BBC, Flipboard, and Meta

As the Fediverse continues to evolve, with platforms like Mastodon leading the charge and new entrants like Meta’s Threads planning to join the ecosystem, the opportunity for news publishers to leverage this decentralised network becomes increasingly tangible. By embracing the Fediverse, publishers can diversify their social media presence and contribute to the growth of an open, interoperable digital public square.

Flipboard, a news aggregation platform, added over 1,000 of its social magazines to the Fediverse, marking a significant pivot towards decentralisation in social media. This move reflects a shift from relying on standalone platforms like X to embracing a more open web ecosystem, fostering new opportunities for content curation and audience engagement within the decentralised web​​​​​​.

The BBC’s exploration of Mastodon by creating an exclusive server for its content further showcases traditional media’s interest in the Fediverse. This initiative diversifies the BBC’s digital footprint and experiments with new forms of audience interaction, free from the constraints of mainstream social media platforms. The BBC’s foray into Mastodon underscores the potential for news organisations to leverage the Fediverse for broader content distribution and community engagement, setting a precedent for other publishers to consider similar strategies​​.

Threads, introduced by Meta, represents a mainstream platform’s attempt to integrate with the Fediverse. This move highlights the growing appeal of decentralised social networks among tech giants and signals a potential shift in how social media ecosystems operate. Threads’ integration with ActivityPub aims to facilitate cross-platform interactions, allowing users to engage with content and communities across different Fediverse services. The impact of such integrations on the Fediverse ecosystem includes the potential for increased user adoption but also raises questions about maintaining the decentralised ethos in the face of involvement from large tech companies​.

Strategies for Publishers in the Fediverse

Entering the Fediverse presents a unique opportunity for publishers to expand their digital footprint in a decentralised social media ecosystem. Here are practical strategies for publishers considering this move:

Choose the Right Platform: The Fediverse comprises various platforms, each catering to different content types, such as Mastodon for microblogging, PixelFed for image sharing, and PeerTube for video content. Publishers should select platforms that align with their content strategy and audience preferences. For instance, a photography magazine might find a home on PixelFed, whereas a news outlet may prefer the text-based environment of Mastodon.

Build a Following: Success in the Fediverse hinges on community engagement. Publishers can start by importing their existing audience but should also engage with the native Fediverse community. This involves participating in relevant discussions, using hashtags, and being active in different instances. Publishers can also collaborate with existing Fediverse influencers to tap into their follower base.

Engage with the Community: The Fediverse culture values transparency, respect, and mutual support. Publishers should adopt these values in their interactions, fostering a sense of community. Regularly posting engaging content, responding to comments, and participating in community events or hashtags can help build a loyal following.

Leverage Unique Features: The Fediverse offers features like content federation across platforms and user-controlled algorithms, which can be leveraged for broader content distribution and personalised audience engagement. Publishers can explore these features to enhance visibility and engagement, ensuring their content reaches the right audience without the limitations of centralised platform algorithms.

Challenges and Considerations

While the Fediverse offers numerous opportunities, publishers should also be aware of potential challenges:

Limited user base: The number of active users across the Fediverse in March 2024 is about 3,000,000, which is not quite as impactful as major social media platforms. However, this number could grow rapidly with major social media platforms like Threads and BlueSky joining the ActivityPub protocol.

Technical Integration: Joining the Fediverse may require technical adjustments, especially for publishers with existing digital platforms. This includes setting up their instances or integrating with ActivityPub protocols. Technical resources or partnerships may be necessary to navigate this transition smoothly.

Content Moderation: The decentralised nature of the Fediverse makes content moderation a shared responsibility. Publishers must establish clear community guidelines and moderation policies to foster a safe and respectful environment. Engaging with the broader Fediverse community to understand common moderation practices can also be beneficial.

Navigating a Decentralised Social Web: The Fediverse’s decentralised structure means publishers must adapt to a landscape without a single governing body. This includes understanding different community norms across instances and respecting the autonomy of each platform. Open dialogue and active participation in Fediverse networks can help publishers navigate this complexity.

Maintaining Open Dialogue: Building relationships with the Fediverse community requires openness and transparency. Publishers should be prepared to engage in constructive conversations about their content, platform choices, and community interactions. Respecting the norms and values of the Fediverse is crucial for long-term success and acceptance within the community.

For publishers willing to navigate these challenges, the Fediverse represents a frontier of opportunity for community-driven content distribution and engagement.


The Fediverse offers a promising alternative to traditional social media for publishers seeking autonomy, data sovereignty, and a direct connection with their audience. By leveraging the decentralised and interoperable nature of the Fediverse, publishers can break free from the constraints of centralised platforms, such as algorithmic control and corporate policies, thus reclaiming control over content distribution and engagement strategies. 

Key takeaways for publishers include:

  • The importance of choosing the right platform within the Fediverse that aligns with their content strategy.
  • Actively engaging with the community to build a following.
  • Leveraging unique features of the Fediverse for broader content distribution and personalised engagement.

The examples of the BBC, Flipboard, and Meta’s Threads entering the Fediverse highlight the growing appeal of decentralised social networks and provide valuable insights into how publishers can navigate this new digital landscape. However, publishers must also be mindful of the challenges, including technical integration, content moderation, and navigating a decentralised social web. The limited user base of the Fediverse, compared to major social media platforms, is a consideration. Still, the potential for rapid growth as more platforms join the ActivityPub protocol offers a promising future for publishers.

In embracing the Fediverse, publishers are not just expanding their digital footprint but contributing to the growth of an open, interoperable digital public square. By adopting a respectful and community-driven approach, publishers can thrive in the Fediverse, fostering meaningful engagement and building loyal audiences in a space that values transparency, autonomy, and mutual support.


Carlo Prato
Digital Marketer

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