This is a list of activist groups and similar accounts in the Fediverse that you should follow if you are interested in a better world. If you have suggestions send them to me.

key ... peertube (video) account ... pixelfed (photo) account ... funkwhale (audio) account ... mobilizon (events) account 💤 ... inactive 🤖 ... bot or crossposter

Ende Gelände

Extinction Rebellion



Other Countries







Parents For Future


Scientists 4 Future

Political Groups



also check out this list of instances that run on clean energy:

Using a Hetzner Cloud, a Domain from Contabo and YunoHost

This is a guide for total beginners (like me). You don't need to know anything before using this guide. If you still need further assistance feel free to contact me. If you want I can also set up the whole thing for you for a one time pay-what-you-like payment.

1. Get a Server at Hetzner

Hetzner is a green host for servers, so it runs on 100% renewable energy. Visit and register for an account. Hetzner will ask you for some information including a billing method. When you're finished setting up your account go to cloud. There click on “+ New Project”. Give the Project a name, like “my first Fediverse instance”. Now click on “Add Server”. For your server location choose Helsinki and for OS image choose Debian 10. For Type you can start with the cheapest server CX11. You can skip all the other steps (maybe give the server a name) and click “Create and Buy Now”. Boom, you have a server. That's the first step completed. Congrats!

2. Get a Domain

Next you'll need a domain. The domain is the url where your website, in this case your Fediverse instance, can be found. So something like

For this guide I'll use to get a domain, but you can use other sites as well. Maybe some things will be a little different than explained in this guide then, but some domains may be cheaper on other sites.

Visit the contabo website and register for an account. Here you'll be asked for a billing method too.

Once you have an account login to There go to “domains” in the control panel. Enter your desired domain name and click “Order domain”. Now contabo will check if the domain is available. If not choose another domain and click Next to check if that one is available. In step 2 you'll be asked for contact details. This should be pre-filled with the info you gave when signing up. Now we get to step 3. Open up your Hetzner cloud in a different tab. Click on your project and then on your server. There you should find the IPv4 address. Click on it to copy it. Go back to the contabo tab and choose “Own IP address” and in the next line paste your copied IP address. Click Next and then Place Bidding Order. Now you're done with step 2 of this guide. Yay! It may take a while until your domain is registered, but you can go on with Step 3 already.

3. Install YunoHost

You should have gotten an eMail from Hetzner containing login credentials. Namely username “root” + a password. Go to your Hetzner server under Cloud > your project > your server and click the “>_” button.

You're now in the console of the server. This may look scary, but I'll guide you through it. First you'll be asked for your login credentials. Enter root and hit enter. Now you'll be asked for the password. Unfortunately you can't just copy-paste it, so you'll have to enter it manually. Nothing will appear when you enter the password, but once you hit enter you should be logged in. Next you'll be asked to change the password. Unfortunately you'll have to enter the old password once more but then you can enter the new password – also twice. Choose a password that you don't use all the time but that you can remember. It's best to generate and store your password in a password safe like KeePass.

For the next steps check the YunoHost guide to make sure the info I'm sharing here is still correct. Enter curl | bash in the console. Now YunoHost will be installed you'll be asked once to confirm. Just select Yes with your arrow keys and hit enter. You'll know when YunoHost is finished installing when you can write again. Now close the console. Next step completed. ✔️🎉

4. Configure YunoHost.

Once again copy your IP address (Open up your Hetzner cloud. Click on your project and then on your server. There you should find the IPv4 address. Click on it to copy it.) Now paste it in the url bar of your browser and hit enter. You'll see a warning that the site is unsafe. Click “advanced” and ignore the warning. Now you'll see the YunoHost portal. Enter the password you chose in step 3. YunoHost will perform some post-installation processes. Just wait until they are done. Now set up a user. Click on “Users”, “+ New user” and fill in the details. Once created click on the user, click “Edit User's Account” and add a forward eMail address, so you don't miss any important eMails. Now go back home, click on Diagnosis and start the initial diagnosis.

5. Set Up DNS and Let's Encrypt

When the diagnosis is done check out the errors displayed in the category DNS records. You'll need to fix the errors for the categories basic and mail. To do that go to your Contabo control panel (in another tab), “your services” and click on “manage” besides your domain. Now click on “edit DNS zones”. The YunoHost diagnosis results tell you exactly which entries to delete (you can't edit entries) and what to add. When the Type is txt just copy the text between the quotation marks, not the quotations marks themselves. Once you added all necessary DNS records run the YunoHost diagnosis again. You may have to wait a while until the diagnosis tool will run the diagnosis again and not just display the prior results. When you ran diagnosis again and the DNS errors are fixed you can go to home, domains, click on your domain then on “SSL certificate” and then “Install Let's Encrypt Certificate”. If you're still waiting for the diagnosis tool you can continue with step 6. and finish step 5. later. If you finished step 5. congrats! You're almost done.

6. Install the Desired Fediverse Software.

In your YunoHost portal go to “Applications”, “+ Install”, choose the category “Social Media” and click “+ Install” besides the App you want to install. On the next page, depending on the app you chose, you'll be asked a few things about the app. If there is a language option make sure you choose the right one or you'll e.g. install Mastodon in French when you can't speak french and neither can the people you want to use Mastodon. After that just click on “Install” and wait. Once that is finished go back to step 5 if you still have to install the Let's Encrypt certificate, otherwise you're done! Congratulations, you are now the proud host of a Fediverse instance. You can find your instance under the domain you chose in step 2. Log in with your YunoHost user data and start configuring the Admin settings.

Bonus: Installing more than one App

You can repeat the whole guide to install another app under another domain or you can use the following steps to install another app under a sub domain of your current domain. In your YunoHost site go to “Domains”, “+ Add domain”, select “I already have a domain name… ” and enter a sub domain of your domain. E.g. if you want to install mastodon you could name the sub-domain “mastodon”, so you would enter Then click “Add”. Now run diagnosis again and enter the needed DNS zones in your Contabo control panel. Now go to “Applications” and install another app. Make sure you choose the newly created sub-domain to install the app to.

Further Guides?

Do you need me to guide you through setting up the admin settings of your Fediverse instance? If enough people need it I'll write another guide and link it here. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Pixelfed is a decentral, federated, ad-free & free-software photoblogging Platform. Decentral and federated means that there are multiple servers which are all their own platforms, but they communicate with each other, building a larger social network. Pixelfed is actually part of the Fediverse.

What does Pixelfed feel like?

Pixelfed is a lot like Instagram. You can only post image posts and your profile will display thumbnails of the images you uploaded. You can like & share other people's images and comment on them.

What are some advantages over Instagram?

  • No tracking. Instagram is owned by Facebook and makes millions gathering your data. Behind Pixelfed there is no big company, but a community of volunteers. The decentral nature of Pixelfed means there is no one big data center with all the information of all users, but multiple servers with little data. You can even have your own server and own all your data yourself.
  • No ads & no algorithm. Pixelfed doesn't choose what you get to see and there are no ads.

How to get an account?

First you need to pick an instance – a server that will be home to your account. There is a list of instances ordered by the number of accounts they host here. If it's important to you to get a lot of followers you best pick an instance with lots of people on it. If you don't speak English there is e.g. for German speakers and for Italians. Once you picked an instance, just visit it and click on “register”. You'll need an eMail address and a password.

How to get started with your account

First fill out your profile info. Upload an avatar, add a website if you have one and pick your pronouns. Next post your first image and maybe add some text about you. Who are you? What do you do? What kind of posts can people expect from you? Maybe use the #introduction or #introductions hashtags.

Visit the public timeline which can be found under /timeline/public and start liking some posts and following some people. Posts by people you follow will appear in the home timeline.


Federation, meaning the discovery of posts and users from other instances doesn't work perfectly for Pixelfed yet. Basically you can be seen and followed by anybody on the fediverse, but following profiles on other Pixelfed instances or elswhere on the Fediverse still has some flaws. To follow you other people first have to discover your account and you can make that a lot easier by having a Mastodon account, where you share your Pixelfed posts.

Mobile Apps

Pixeldroid is an unofficial Pixelfed client for Android. For now there is no iOS app.

Further reading

Here you'll find a list of interesting links about Pixelfed.

✉️ ... Anfrage noch nicht gesendet 📨 ... Anfrage gesendet 📩 ... neutrale Antwort erhalten 💌 ... positive Antwort erhalten ❌ ... nach langer Zeit keine Antwort erhalten 🚫 ... negative Antwort erhalten

Du kannst helfen! Klicke auf die Symbole um zu den Kontakten zu kommen. Besonders die mit ❌ gekennzeichneten Kontakte wären gut, wenn viele Leute anschreiben würden.


  • ABC-Wien
  • ✉️
  • Ernst-Kirchweger-Haus
  • Hosi Wien
  • Parents For Future Wien
  • Platz für Wien ✉️
  • Rosa Antifa Wien
  • SystemChangeNotClimateChange Wien ✉️
  • XR Wien ✉️




Museen und Sehenswürdigkeiten

  • Albertina ✉️
  • Haus des Meeres ✉️
  • Kunsthaus Wien ✉️
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum ✉️
  • Lainzer Tiergarten +43 1 4000-49200
  • Museumsquartier ✉️
  • Naturhistorisches Museum ✉️
  • Österreichische Nationalbibliothek ✉️
  • Schmetterlingshaus ✉️
  • Schönbrunner Tiergarten ✉️
  • Sisi Museum ✉️
  • Technisches Museum ✉️
  • Urania




  • GRAS Wien ✉️
  • Grüne Andersrum Wien
  • Grüne Jugend Wien
  • Junge Linke Wien ✉️
  • Links Wien
  • Piraten Wien
  • SJ Wien ✉️

Soziale Einrichtungen & Vereine




This is my personal list of tools to avoid Surveillance Capitalism. Wherever possible I will recommend privacy-friendly, free (as in freedom) software, but if no such software is available the main goal is just to get you away from the worst offenders, a.k.a. #GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple & Microsoft) or #FAANG (incl. Netflix) or #GMafia (incl. IBM). Personally I'm also including ebay, Twitter, Yahoo & Cloudflare on the list of evils.

I will try to keep this list up to date, add more stuff and fix mistakes that are pointed out to me (see changelog). Please also give me tips for other tools I could use, but don't be mad if I don't have the time to look into and add all of them. Besides avoiding big tech companies there are other important aspects regarding privacy and security that I won't get into in this article much – but I might add some links.

For other lists check out these websites:


Operating Systems

Mobile Operating Systems

  • Android based OSes
    • Replicant (Freedom and Privacy Tip) is the only Android OS that is 100% free software, so all proprietary Android parts are removed. It is clearly the most privacy friendly Android flavor, but since it is only supported on a limited number of mostly old devices and it lacks many features people are used to on their smartphones it's mostly relevant for activists and free software idealists. They have some great recommendations on how to be extra safe.
    • Lineage OS (Beginner Tip) is a great compromise between privacy and usability for most users. It is actively developed by a great community and receives timely security updates and Android upgrades and comes with some cool built in features that other Android OSes lack.
    • Let me here mention other AOSP-based OSes in general. Most are probably similar to LOS when it comes to privacy, but have less features. One notable mention (❗️ here I am biased) is Fairphone Open OS which is one of the few such OSes that is officially supported by the phone manufacturer and one of the few that comes with F-Droid privileged extension preinstalled.
    • Lineage OS for microG is great if you are a little more dependent on apps that refuse to work without Google. MicroG is a free implementation of Google Services, so your device and apps can use Google's services while sending a minimal amount of data to Google – but still some.
    • /e/ is a great option if you still miss more services Google usually offers. With an /e/ account you can sync your data from your /e/ device to your /e/ cloud. The OS is still in beta phase, but a lot of exciting features are rumored for the first official release that should come soon. With that /e/ could become interesting for a wider range of people between super-privacy-aware and shiny-feature-junky.
    • Not an OS, but as the next step on the spectrum between living completely without Google and living with as much Google as you need I should mention OpenGAPPS. It is a free script that installs ❗️the Google Apps and Services on your Android phone, so if you choose to do that you are already very dependent on Google, but you can choose different packages which include more or less apps – so at least you don't have to have all Google apps on your phone if you don't need them.
  • I haven't extensively tested any Non-Android OS, so I can't say much here. PureOS would definitely be my first choice as the most privacy friendly option. I tested Ubuntu Touch for a while in 2017 and was quite pleased with it. It's definitely worth checking out if you don't like Android.

Mobile App Stores

  • F-Droid is the only App store you really need on your mobile phone. It works on all Android flavors and comes only with free software. ❗️F-Droid contains apps that promote bigotry, racism, trans-phobia and worse. Some of these apps only exist for that purpose, but the F-Droid community can't seem to make up their mind and remove them.
    • Repositories: In F-Droid you can choose different sources for apps. Besides the main repo I'd recommend enabling the Guardian Project repo in the settings and if you want more apps to choose from get Izzy’s repo. Beware with other repos, if you're not absolutely sure you can trust their maintainers.
    • Alternative client apps: If you don't like the look and feel of the F-Droid client app I'd recommend you try G-Droid. It has a lot of exciting new features and an active developer who is open to input. Another alternative would be M-Droid.
  • Yalp can be used additionally if you absolutely think you need some apps that are not available on F-Droid. You can get all gratis apps from the Play store with a fake account. ❗️You'll still be sending some data to Google, but less than if you'd have the Play store and Google services on your phone. Also many apps you can get there are dependent on Google software or contain other adware/spyware.
  • Aurora is a fork of Yalp, so it does the same, but with a different, more fancy design.

Desktop Operating Systems

  • GNU/Linux is the 3rd big operating system that everybody knows besides Windows and Mac OS and of those 3 it's the only free OS. There is not one GNU/Linux though that you can download and install, but there are very many distributions. This is not the place to get into all of them. Also choosing a distro is a very personal process, so you will have to do your own research. For full freedom you'd have to go with a flavor endorsed by the FSF. Here is a list. I'll mention a few of them below as Freedom Tips. Btw, these distros are ordered by bloodline and timeline, not by how much I recommend them.
    • Debian is one of the oldest distros and has a strong ethical codex that all included software has to follow – which of course is not necessarily true for all Debian derivates.
    • Ubuntu is based on Debian and generally more often suggested for GNU/Linux beginners, but less so by freedom and privacy advocates. I am using Ubuntu as my first GNU/Linux system, but it definitely won't be my last.
    • Linux Mint (Beginner Tip) is based on Ubuntu and I've heard a lot of great things about it lately. Apparently the consensus is that it's even more beginner friendly while also being more privacy friendly.
    • gNewSense (Freedom Tip) is another Ubuntu derivate and it is endorsed and funded by the FSF. So it's great for freedom but probably not very beginner friendly.
    • Lubuntu (Environmental Tip) is an Ubuntu derivate that like Ubuntu itself you don't usually hear mentioned as a very privacy friendly choice, but it is very lightweight, fast and energy-friendly so it is regularly recommended to install on old devices that are getting slow. Saving a computer from going to e-waste this way is great for the environment.
    • Trisquel (Freedom Tip) is another Debian derivate recommended by the FSF and also by Trisquel is the OS most often pre-installed on computers the FSF labels “Respects your freedom”.
    • PureOS (Freedom and Privacy Tip) is yet another Debian derivate endorsed by the FSF. It comes with extra strict inclusion policies for software.
    • another notable Debian derivate is MX Linux while Fedora and Qubes are notable derivates of the Redhat distro.
  • BSD should also be mentioned here as the second free OS besides GNU/Linux. It also has many distributions, of which Free BSD is often recommended as a very good option for freedom and privacy.

As for Desktop App Stores many free operating systems come with their own stores. I can only speak for Ubuntu, which comes with a store including free as well as proprietary apps. You can't filter them so you'll always have to check whether the app is free or proprietary before installing. Otherwise just manually install apps from developers you trust by following the install instructions on their websites.

Web Browsing

Web Browsers

  • Firefox (Beginner Tip) is the gold standard in free web browsing and even when considering proprietary apps probably only Chrome comes near performance-wise. With many built in features and a huge set of available addons (see below) you can turn Firefox into a very privacy friendly browser, but still many groups don't recommend it because it doesn't go far enough. E.g.: ❗️This browser comes with Google as the standard search engine. That's why there are many browsers based on Firefox that e.g. don't come with certain proprietary features, don't use Google as a standard search engine, don't promote proprietary addons or don't have the voluntary tracking options that Firefox has. Here are some examples:
    • Tor Browser (Privacy Tip) is the first choice when it comes to privacy. It uses the Tor network to enable anonymous browsing and comes with a lot of additional privacy enhancing features built in. As long as you follow the Tips for using Tor you should be very safe. Browsing via Tor can be quite slow and using the default settings – which is recommended – can break some sites. Thats why you might want to use a different browser for sites you use daily and trust and use the Tor browser only for sensitive research.
    • Klar is a great choice for unexperienced users who still want a high privacy level, as it comes very privacy friendly out of the box. You don't have to change any settings (except for the search engine) or (can't) download any addons and Klar will already let you browse the web very privately. E.g. It will regularly delete cache and other private data and it won't let you store passwords. Therefore it is not very convenient to use for browsing sites that you regularly use while logged in. I still use it as my main browser along with Tor Browser at the moment. ❗️This browser comes with Google as the standard search engine.
    • Fennec F-Droid is an attempt to remove all proprietary bits from mobile Firefox, but there still might be some blobs left and it still comes with anti-features on F-Droid. ❗️This browser comes with Google as the standard search engine.
    • GNU IceCat (Freedom Tip) is the FSF’s version built on Firefox ESR, which means it doesn't have the latest fancy Firefox features. Instead it is stripped from most proprietary stuff, comes with FSF endorsed addons preinstalled (and doesn't promote other addons).
  • Lightning is a nice browser I used for a while. On many devices it will be one of the fastest browsers and with it you are even able to browse via Tor quite fast. ❗️This browser comes with Google as the standard search engine.

Browser Addons

  • uBlock Origin is the only ad blocker you need, but it's more than that. You can block all kinds of stuff. E.g. you can get blocklists from Stephen Black to block fake news, porn, social media or gambling sites. You can also block individual elements that you don't like on sites to give them a more clear appearance.
  • Cloud Firewall is an awesome addon that can completely block connections to Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Cloudflare including sites or elements hosted on their clouds.
  • Https Everywhere Is another must-have that lets you browse the web via secure https if possible and block sites that don't have https set up or at least warn before you access them.
  • Multi Account Containers Is a great addon by Mozilla that let's you put the sites you browse into containers so the sites don't know what other sites you are on. You can enhance containers features with Switch Containers Plus and Temporary Containers. The latter basically offers the same function as Firefox's private window, only in a tab instead of a new window. You can set up the addon so all links you click that would change the domain you're on are opened in a new temporary container tab.
  • uMatrix was recommended to me by multiple readers of this article. At first it can be a bit confusing for new users, but after two days it turned into one of my favorite addons.
  • Notable mentions: Location Guard, Terms of Service; Didn't Read, Privacy Settings

Search Engines

  • DuckDuckGo (Beginner Tip) is probably the most well known and feature-rich privacy-friendly web search engine. ❗️Beware though the website is hosted on the Amazon cloud.
  • Ecosia (Environmental Tip) is not known for being a very privacy friendly search engine (though they are working on it), but for it's “greenness”. Ecosia has advertisement, but donates a large portion if it's advertising revenue to reforestation projects and other environmental causes. ❗️Ecosia is hosted on Clpudflare and their image search depends on bing, but the websearch works even if you block connections to bing. I use Ecosia as my primary search engine, because sometimes you have to prioritize and I think saving the planet is more important than my privacy. Also I am quite confident I am doing enough to make sure I'm not leaking too much data while using Ecosia.
  • Mojeek (Privacy Tip) is a search engine with no tracking whatsoever and a very low environmental impact. It was created in the UK and is hosted on ‘UK’s greenest data center’.
  • Notable mentions: Searx, Qwant Lite, Startpage...


Mail Providers

  • Riseup is a anarcho-communist mail provider created especially for activists. To create an account you need invite codes by other users. I am using Riseup for many years now for my private emails and am very happy with it.
  • Tutanota (Overall Tip) is very privacy friendly and also CO2 neutral.
  • Mailbox[.]org was also suggested to me, but it is not free software, so I explicitely don't recommend it. Don't trust companies' unverifiable claims that they care about your privacy.

Mail Apps

  • K-9 Mail is a feature rich mobile Mail app with multi-account support. It has everything you are looking for. If you don't like it's design try K9 Material. Use Open Keychain to encrypt your mails with K-9 Mail.
  • Thunderbird by Mozilla could be described the same as K-9, only it's for desktop. Use Enigmail for encryption with Thunderbird.
  • Tutanota, the before mentioned email provider comes with it's own mail app on F-Droid. Encryption and other privacy enhancing features are built in. The app gets great reviews from the community. Like the Tutanota email address I have only started using this app recently.
  • Notable mobile mail apps: Fair Email and its fork Simple Email, p≡p

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging is a very difficult topic. There is not a single messenger that can be recommended by all privacy advocates. Whenever someone tells me I should switch to messenger XY someone else shows me a list of privacy flaws of messenger XY. See this image to see how complicated this topic is. So I'll just mention two apps that at least don't give your data to the big surveillance capitalists, even if they have flaws.

  • Silence (Overall Tip) is a mobile app for SMS/MMS texting. In their own words – which I wholeheartedly agree with – it is easy, reliable, private, safe and open source. From silence to silence encryption works flawlessly – which is why I think everyone should use it. Otherwise at least the local storage of received and sent messages is encrypted.
  • Signal (Overall Tip) is the perfect chat app to move to from Whatsapp. It works very similarly and is secure and private by default. I recommend downloading it from their site, not from Google Play, even though they recommend the opposite.

  • Notable mentions: , Kontalk, RiotIM, Conversations, DeltaChat, Briar, TRIfA, Session

Social Media

This section moved to separate articles about Mastodon and the Fediverse. See:


  • OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a free collaborative maps project with all functions you expect.
    • On mobile you'll probably find using OsmAnd more convenient than the website. You can also download maps for offline use.
    • OSM depends on contributions. If something is missing on the map just add it. One of the easiest ways to contribute is the mobile app StreetComplete which will simply ask you questions about things near you.
  • Transportr is the only additional mobile Navigation app you'll need, namely for public transportation.
  • MicroG Unified NLP is your friend if your mobile OS doesn't come with any network location service and GPS is not enough for you. It helps your device get your approximate location via near mobile and wifi networks. To use it you'll also need at least one backend. I recommend the Mozilla backend. This project too depends on contributions. For that use Mozilla Stumbler.


Video Players

  • Kodi is a great universal media player for desktop and mobile. Play music, movies, TV shows, podcasts etc from your own Kodi database or stream them. ❗️ But beware of proprietary addons. Unfortunately Kodi doesn't display licenses of addons.
  • VLC is another great universal media player for desktop and mobile, only not with such a fancy design.

Video Streaming

  • Peertube is a video streaming service that is part of the fediverse. There is not a lot of quality content there yet, but quite a lot of videos that look like clear cases of copyright infringement. Of course one is only allowed to upload their own or freely licensed videos. In theory Peertube is great and I hope a lot of creators join and make it big.
  • Invidious is a great service for streaming videos from Youtube while keeping Google tracking to a minimum – with the proxy feature (find the tiny ⚙️ Preferences button in the top right corner and don't forget to save) you can watch videos without any connection to Google at all. I recommend the instance which has the video proxy option enabled by default.
  • Newpipe is one of many mobile apps that also lets you watch Youtube videos without sending too much data to Google.

Movie/TV Streaming

  • ❔ I never used Netflix or any other similar streaming service for TV shows or movies and I never missed it. So I probably never will test an alternative thoroughly either. But since I mentioned FAANG in the beginning of the article and Netflix is the “N” in FAANG I'd really like an alternative here. Please send me your suggestions.
  • Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive has a collection of public domain movies and other videos.
    • If you don't like the design of the Internet Archive try which is basically a categorized list of freely licensed films from the Internet Archive and Peertube.
  • You'll find some sources for DRM-free content at DefectiveByDesign.


Audio Players

  • The before mentioned Kodi and VLC are great for audio too.
  • Banshee is the desktop music player I use, because it has all the functions I need and most other players lack. Unfortunately it is no longer maintained and it does have a few little issues every now and then. Since I don't need any function that would let Banshee access the internet I think the security risk is minimal.
  • For mobile use Simple Music Player or literally any music player on F-Droid that you like and isn't marked with anti-features.
  • Notable mentions: Lollypop
  • If your favorite music player doesn't come with a plugin for music tagging, or you don't like it use MusicBrainz Picard.
    • It uses the MusicBrainz database that I contribute to. If you want to contribute too, watch out ❗️logging in depends on Google reCaptcha (for now) and the forum is stored on the Google cloud.

Music Stores/Streaming

  • Funkwhale is a great music streaming service that is part of the fediverse. Anyone can upload music if it is under a license that allows sharing or the uploader owns the copyright. I love the idea and design, but like Peertube it just doesn't have a lot of content yet.
  • ❗️Unfortunately the rest of the sites I like all have various Google trackers. There is Free Music Archive (FMA) which only stores freely licensed music and you can filter the catalogue by license. Bandcamp has a very large catalogue and also a lot of Creative Commons music, that is marked with the exact license, but unfortunately you can't filter by license. Same for Jamendo and Soundcloud.
  • For more sources that might not care about licensing, but at least avoid DRM check out the list at DefectiveByDesign.


Gallery Apps

  • Shotwell is a simple, yet versatile desktop photo library.
  • Simple Gallery is my recommendation for mobile, but once again any gallery app from F-Droid will do.

Camera Apps

  • Open Camera is a mobile camera app I'd even recommend if I didn't care about privacy at all. There is simply nothing missing in this app.

Image Editing

  • Gimp is a powerful and yet simple raster graphics editor. For vector graphics Inkscape is probably the first choice.

Image Hosting Services

  • Wikimedia Commons is a great source for freely licensed images. Most of the icons I'm using in this article link to Wikimedia.
  • Internet Archive: Images also contains lots of freely licensed, public domain or fair use images.


Environmental Tip: Generally prefer eBooks and Audiobooks over physical books – except second hand. Digitization – if done right – reduces used resources, used energy and waste.


Clouds & Sync

  • Nextcloud is what you use if you need a cloud. Mine is empty – I only use it in rare occasions so someone can send me a file which I delete from the cloud once I downloaded it. So I don't have much to say here.
    • DAVx⁵ is a mobile app that let's you sync your contacts & calendar to your Nextcloud.
  • /e/ cloud is the cloud that comes with the /e/ mobile operating system. You can use it to automatically sync all your important data.


  • Libre Office is a full office suite for desktop. I use it everyday and never missed a feature.
  • Framasoft is an awesome free software community from France that offers a lot of free online tools for collaborative work on documents among many, many other things. If you know French and another language please help them with translations.



  • Faircoin is a socialist cryptocurrency. If you want privacy during online payments there is probably no way around cryptocurrencies and since this article is about avoiding surveillance capitalism, why not go with an anti-capitalistic currency? Faircoin's growth rate is controlled and steady to avoid speculations. It is not mined and energy consumption during transactions is low to minimize the ecological impact which is very high for other cryptocurrencies.
  • Liberapay would be a great option for recurring payments/donations, but as it depends on Paypal and/or Stripe I can't recommend it (yet?).

Online Stores

  • FairMarket for now is a very small online marketplace using FairCoins.
  • Avocado Store (Environmental Tip) is once again an ethical choice I'm throwing in here. It is a shop for eco-fashion and home supplies where each product must fulfill at least one principle (like bio, long-lasting, recycled & recycleable, vegan,...) ❗️Unfortunately the site is hosted on the Google cloud and contains Google tracking and all pictures are stored on the Amazon cloud.
  • Willhaben (Austria Tip) is an online trading and reselling marketplace that is great to get your hand on anything second hand and commission-free. It's only for Austria though.


I'm not a developer. Not even slightly. So I'll keep this short.

Collaboration Platforms

  • Savannah (Freedom and Privacy Tip) is the right choice for 100% free software.
  • Codeberg is 100% Free Software and is managed by a non-profit association of FOSS and libre people & financed by its members.
  • (Beginner Tip) is a collaboration platform often recommended, e.g. by Prsim-break and it is the one F-Droid trusts with their data. ❗️Beware though, it is hosted on the Google cloud, so don't use that. The community edition is free software and can be used to power platforms hosted on other clouds. E.g.:
  • Notable mention: Gitea


I passionately hate Google reCaptcha. There is so much tracking going on on the web that I can just block away – many sites will still work. But once a website developer chooses to use reCaptcha for a site where you need to register to use that's game over.


  • Matomo is an open alternative to Google Analytics. Or here is a thought: Just don't analyze your customers/community at all!
  • Font Squirrel is a collection of free fonts you can use to replace Google Fonts.
  • Exoscale is an open source cloud hosting platform to replace all the evil clouds that you can block with Cloud Firewall.


Generally: You'll want to go with hardware that runs the software we discussed before. If you already have a device where you can flash one of the privacy friendly operating systems I'd recommend you do that instead of buying a new device: Consider e-waste and resources! Also consider buying a used device and/or resell your old device.


  • Replicant-enabled devices (Freedom and Privacy Tip) are the first choice for privacy. They recommend the GTA04.
  • Fairphone (Environmental Tip) is my personal choice and recommendation. Their focus is on conflict-free resources, good working conditions and circular economy, but e.g. the FP2 also comes (came) with an unlocked bootloader, so many of the OSes mentioned before run on it. Also there is an active community avoiding Google which I am a part of.
  • Notable Mentions: Purism, Shift, Necunos


  • Freedom Tip: First choice for full freedom should be a device certified as Respects Your Freedom by the FSF. Second choice would be to get a device from h-node
  • Purism (Beginner Tip) is one of the manufacturers with devices available on h-node. Their Librem devices come with their before mentioned and FSF-endorsed PureOS. They are definitely high up on the list for my next device, not that that's anytime soon. I also recommend them for GNU/Linux beginners because compatibility between device and OS is surely not an issue if both come from the same company.
  • why! (Environmental Tip) is a Swiss company that makes repairable computers running Ubuntu. For Linux beginners I can really recommend them. My next computer (which will be in many, many years) will probably be something different though.

Other Devices

  • First up: Avoid smart devices, especially home assistents like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and smart watches like the Apple watch. You don't need them. You really don't, but if I can't convince you then get a Mycroft Mark.
  • For other devices check out the FSF recommendations and Mozilla's Privacy Not Included Guide.
  • Generally just avoid devices with sensors & an internet connection unless you can definitely trust them, which is only the case if they run free software.
  • Devices – even smart ones – without any sensors, without an internet connection and that don't require you to download a proprietary app on your phone where you need to log in with your personal data should be fine.

Some General Considerations

This concludes the main body of my guide on surveillance capitalism (though updates will follow). Since I got lots of feedback on other aspects of privacy and related topics I'm adding this general section.

The following is a categorized list of articles by people, organizations and communities who have more knowledge on these things than me. I added my thoughts every now and then as well as related tools that are mentioned in the articles and/or I can recommend. Links in the bold categories are to Wikipedia articles. Please let me know if important authors are missing.


  • 2019-04-08: Start of drafting
  • 2019-04-13: Publication and initial edits based on great and numerous feedback (e.g. about Fedilab, Telegram, Signal, Tor Browser... )
  • 2019-04-14: Added uMatrix, added other suggestions as notable mentions while explicitly not recommending others that are proprietary software.
  • 2019-04-15: Added Video, Audio and Photo sections.
  • 2019-04-16: Added Mojeek and a few Linux distributions.
  • 2019-04-17: Had to split article into two parts, because too many images; started replacing icons hosted on evil clouds and removed Brave (see motive).
  • 2019-04-22: Finished replacing icons hosted on evil clouds – some are not really icons of the subject, but just images from Wikimedia that look somewhat similar.
  • 2019-04-27: Added a Books section and more.
  • 2019-04-29: Published Part 3.
  • 2019-05-01: Revamped the Desktop Operating Systems section with some new additions. Also started replacing words the FSF says to avoid.
  • 2019-05-02: Added highlights for Beginner, Freedom, Privacy, Environmental and Overall tips in some sections.
  • 2019-05-03: Added General Considerations section.
  • 2019-05-06: Removed link to AlternativeTo. Here is why.
  • 2019-05-10: Updated with a tip from @kuketzblog.
  • 2019-05-16: Added a few more browser addons.
  • 2019-05-22: Updated the browsers section in celebration of the first stable release for the mobile Tor Browser.
  • 2019-05-30: Rewrote the Instant Messaging section and the text about Tutanota. Part 1 reached 10.000 views today!
  • 2020-02-09: General overhaul. Now it's just one part.
  • 2021-01-10: Minor edits (esp. concerning cloudflare)
  • 2021-01-13: Replaced Telegram with Signal

written by Paula on 2021-01-9; last updated 2021-01-12

This article is derived from the social media section of the How to Live Without Google and Other Evil Tech Giants article. I'll concentrate on one super-network called the fediverse.


Article 1: Mastodon & the Fediverse for Beginners

Article 2: The Fediverse for the Advanced

Article 3: Beginners Guide to Pixelfed


The fediverse is a free & federated (decentral but connected) social super-network. To understand how it works, you need to understand these terms (though some of them have different names in different parts of the fediverse):

  • An identity is basically your profile. It has a unique address and is hosted on one of the many servers, also called instances.
  • An Instance is basically a small social network hosted on one server. Each instance can have it's own set of rules as for what content is allowed. You can also host your own instance. Each instance runs one software.
  • The software used on an instance is essential for the user experience and possibilities. See the list below.
  • Many software projects use the same protocol which enables instances to communicate with each other. Most software projects use Activity Pub. Some projects might not have full federation yet though if the protocol is not implemented well yet. More on that later.
  • The fediverse (federated universe) is the sum of all identities, on all instances using any software, communicating with any protocol.
  • E.g.: My main identity is “” is the instance my identity is on. The software it uses is Mastodon. Thanks to the ActivityPub protocol I can follow identities on other instances that use e.g. Mastodon, GNU Social or PixelFed software.

Moving Instances

In Article 1 I taught you the basics of Mastodon. Now that you have a better understanding and some experience you might want to change instances. The good news: Moving from one Mastodon Instance to another can be done (almost*) without losing any followers or people you follow. The bad news: There is no such thing for the rest of the Fediverse and even if you move from Masto to Masto your posts won't be moved.

Moving from Mastodon to Mastodon

  1. Create the new account you want to move to if you didn't already. It doesn't have to be a new account.
  2. Log in to the account you want to move TO and go to Settings > Account > Moving from a different account.
  3. There enter the handle (@profilename@instance.whatever) of the account you want to move FROM.
  4. Now login with the account you want to move FROM and go to Settings > Account > Move to a different account.
  5. There enter the handle and password of the account you want to move TO and hit “Move Followers”.
  6. Wait for the followers to be moved and you're done.

Some facts:

  • The account you moved from will not be deleted but just deactivated and it will redirect to your new account. You can reactivate the account later on, but the followers will be gone (moved to the other account).
  • You can merge two or more accounts by moving from one to another or by moving both/all to a new one.
  • *Some followers from non-Mastodon instances won't move.

Moving from or to a non-Mastodon instance

Tip: Think hard if you really want to move or just create a second account.

These are just suggestions:

  1. Post on your old account that you will move to prepare your followers.
  2. Create the new account.
  3. Rename your old account to “profilename [old]“, “profilename [moved]” or similar.
  4. Create a post on your old account informing your followers that you moved. Display the handle of the new account prominently in that post and pin the post to your profile.
  5. Also put that message in the profile description of your old account.
  6. With your new account write an #introduction post and include some hashtags you used before.
  7. Wait a few weeks for your old followers to follow you again. In that time you can repeat point 4 one or two times.
  8. Go through your followers lists and manually inform the ones who didn't follow you again.
  9. Repost some of your better posts to your new profile. I did so using the hashtag #RecycledToot.

Software Projects

Microblogging (like Twitter)


main developer: Eugen @Gargron official website: official instance: &

Mastodon is the most well known software project in the fediverse. Many people actually only know Mastodon and don't know that it's part of something bigger. They might even regularly interact with people on other networks and have no idea. It is not only the most well known, but probably also one of the smoothest working software projects in the fediverse.

How it federates

Mastodon & Mastodon

Between different Mastodon instances you have full federation, which means you can interact with a user on a different instance just as well as with someone on the same instance as you. There are a few exceptions:

  • every instance has to discover other instances first, before the users and their posts are displayed e.g. in the federated timeline.
  • obviously if an instance moderator blocks another instance you can't interact with anyone there.
  • if your instance hasn't discovered another instance yet you might not find a user on that instance just by the name. You'll have to enter the full handle or the url in the search field
  • once you discovered and are following a user you might not see all their previous toots. If you enter the url of an old toot into your search field however you can discover that toot and from then on it will be displayed on the user's profile
  • posts that you and your instance haven't discovered yet will not be shown in the federated timeline and won't show up under hashtags they use
  • to discover more users and instances an instance admin can use activity relays or create a bot account that interacts with other instances automatically to discover them. If you don't want to be discovered by bots put #nobot in your profile description.

Mastodon & Pleroma & Gnu Social

These software projects work very similar to Mastodon, so federation works about the same – at least that's my experience from the POV of Mastodon. It might be a bit different from the other side. Pleroma, like some Mastodon forks doesn't have the 500 character limit, but the posts can still be viewed in full in the extended view. In the feed you'll just see the first ~500 characters and a “show more” link, which takes you to the extended view.

Other microblogging software:

Macroblogging (like Wordpress)


main developer: official website: official list of instances:

This very article is brought to you powered by WriteFreely.

How it federates

WriteFreely & WriteFreely

Not implemented yet. You can see posts by other users on your instance, but there is no federated feed yet.

WriteFreely & Mastodon

From WriteFreely you can see nothing else in the fediverse, but from Mastodon you can see WriteFreely posts. They will only be the title of the post + a link though. You reply to the WriteFreely post, but the person on WriteFreely will not be notified and comments won't show up under the post. On Mastodon you can follow a WriteFreely account so all their posts will show up in your home feed.

WriteFreely & other parts of the Fediverse

Afaik most Fediverse software projects that work with ActivityPub will be able to discover WriteFreely users and posts just like Mastodon.

Other macroblogging software:

  • Plume

Social Network (like Facebook)


main developer: Mike Macgirvin & Friendica Community official website: official list of public instances:

How it federates

In theory Friendica is probably the software project that can federate with the most other projects in the fediverse, because it uses many protocols. The quality of the federation is sometimes not so great however.

My experience

With its many features Friendica can be a bit complicated. Also in my experience it is a bit slow. Maybe I just haven't been on a well-managed instance yet, or maybe the software just really is slow for now. Also some basic functions like following a user take 3 clicks instead of one and take you to a whole new page. Then you have to go back to continue where you were. This makes following a lot of users really time consuming.

Other Social Networks:

Photoblogging (like Instagram)


main developer: @dansup official website: official instance:

is an image-sharing service (so like Instagram), that is still under heavy development, but already works quite well. Communication to Mastodon works, but isn't great yet.

How it federates

From Pixelfed to the Fediverse

Not implemented yet. There is no federated feed yet. You can already follow other Fediverse accounts, but even then you won't be able to see their posts. Not even other Pixelfed instances.

PixelFed & Mastodon

You can discover PixelFed users and posts from Mastodon and interact with them just like you are used to with other Mastodon users. You might even think its just a Mastodon user who puts a picture in every one of their posts. The PixelFed user however will not be notified if you comment on their post. If they go to their post however they will see your comment and reply. On PixelFed you can upload up to 6 photos in one post and you can add filters and a location. On Mastodon you will only see 4 photos max, they will not display with the filter and there will be no location info.

My experience

I generally love PixelFed, but often updates make regressions imho. E.g.:

  • now in the feed picture sets will have little dots on the bottom, destroying the elegance of the photo
  • the devs seem to try to get people to only upload square photos, which I dislike a lot
  • the post composition function changes a lot and often some functions are buried deep

Video Hosting (like Youtube)


main developer: Framasoft official website: official instance:

How it federates

Peertube & Peertube

Full federation as far as I can tell. Except it seems like discovering other instances is quite hard, as I haven't yet found an instance that has a near to complete federated feed.

Peertube & Mastodon

From Peertube you can't discover other projects on the Fediverse yet, but from Mastodon you can see Peertube posts. They will appear with the title + the embedded video – no further text or hashtags. You can interact with the post as you are used to and the comments will appear under the video on the Peertube site. From Mastodon you can follow Peertube users and their channels, but in my experience this sometimes doesn't work even if you enter the url or the handle in the search field.

Audio Hosting (like Soundcloud)


main developer: Agate Berriot & Funkwhale Community official website: official list of instances:

How it federates

There is some federation between FunkWhale instances, but not with other projects in the Fediverse yet, as far as I can tell.

Events (like Facebook Events)


main developer: Framasoft official website: & official instance:

How it federates

There is no federation between Mobilizon instances yet, but you can discover Mobilizon users and events from Mastodon. On Mastodon a Mobilizon event will only be a post with the title of the event and a link to it though. You can interact with the post and comments will be displayed under the event. The goal is that you'll be able to add events from any Mobilizon instance to your calendar, but you'll probably not be able to RSVP from other software projects.


main developer: William Murphy official instance:

“Guppe brings social groups to the Fediverse” Basically a group is like a Mastodon bot that boosts every post it is mentioned in. So you can follow a group and you will see every post that mentions the group. To use you don't create a account, but simply interact with the group. To create a new group just mention @[groupname]

How it federates works perfectly with Mastodon. I haven't tested it yet with other software.

Mobile Apps

  • Fedilab, along with Tusky, is my favorite mobile app for browsing the Fediverse. You can switch between different identities on Mastodon, Pleroma, Friendica, GNU Social, Peertube and soon Pixelfed instances.
  • Tusky is a bit simpler – both in a positive and a negative sense, but otherwise very similar.
  • AndStatus is another multi-account app, that works with Mastodon, GNU Social, and also Twitter.


geschrieben von Paula am 2021-01-08 letzter Update: 2021-05-31

The English version can be found here.


Artikel 1: Mastodon & Fediverse für Anfänger*innen

Artikel 2: Fediverse for the Advanced [English only for now] Article 3: Beginners Guide to Pixelfed [English only]

Was ist Mastodon?

Mastodon ist eine microblogging Platform. Microblogging bedeuted, dass du einen Blog mit kurzen (micro) Posts hast. Üblicherweise stehen pro Post 500 Zeichen zu Verfügung. Anders als bekannte Social Media Plattformen ist Mastodon:

  • Freie Software
  • nicht an deinen persönlichen Daten interessiert
  • dezentral
  • teil des Fediverse

Freie Software ist Software, bei der der Quellcode einsehbar ist und in Übereinstimmung mit den 4 Freiheiten verwendet werden kann. Für dich heißt das, dass du vertrauen kannst, dass keine Bösen Teile in der Software vorhanden sind, denn sonst hätte diese längst jemensch gefunden und es gäbe einen großen Aufschrei.

Dezentral (oder föderal) bedeutet, dass es nicht einen großen Server gibt, wo alles gespeichert ist und der gehackt werden oder ausfallen kann. Stattdessen gibt es viele Server, die nie alle gleichzeitig ausfallen und wenn einer gehackt wird, so erhält dieder Hackerin nicht viele Daten.

Was ist das Fediverse?

Stell dir vor Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Co wären alle Teil eines gigantischen Netzwerks. Das ist, was das Fediverse ist, nur statt Twitter und Co sind weniger bekannte, freie und dezentrale Alternativen teil des Fediverse. So ist z.B. Mastodon ähnlich wie Twitter, Friendica wie Facebook und Pixelfed wie Instagram und es gibt noch viel mehr. Wenn du z.B. einen Mastodon Account hast, kannst du Friendica und Pixelfed Accounts folgen und merkst vielleicht gar nicht, dass das keine Mastodon Accounts sind.

Wie bekomme ich einen Account

Welches Netzwerk?

Als erstes musst du entscheiden, welchen Teil des Fediverse du beitreten möchtest. Für Artikel 1 gehe ich davon aus, dass dies Mastodon ist. Wenn du mit einem anderen Netzwerk beginnst, wird trotzdem vieles, was ich beschreibe, ähnlich sein. Eine Liste der Netzwerke findest du in Artikel 2.

Welche Instanz?

Ich werde Instanzen später noch genauer erklären. Für jetzt reicht es zu wissen, dass eine Instanz ein Teil von Mastodon ist, so wie Mastodon ein Teil vom Fediverse ist. Instanzen sind also kleine Netzwerke. Wenn du viele verschiedene Interessen hast, dann ist ein guter Tipp. Diese Instanz wird von den Machern von Mastodon betrieben. Wenn du spezifische Interessen hast, besuche um mehrere Instanzen nach Thema geordnet zu finden. Meine eigene Instanz ist dort z.B. unter “Aktivism” kategorisiert. Auch lokale Instanzen sind dort aufgelistet, wie zum Beispiel die ebenfalls von mir betriebene Instanz

Was, wenn die Instanz nicht offen ist?

Prinzipiell gibt es 3 Registrations Modi für Instanzen. “Jeder kann beitreten”, “Zulassung nötig” und “Niemand kann beitreten”. In den ersten beiden Fällen kannst du dich einfach registrieren. Der Unterschied ist, dass du beim ersten Modus gleich eine Bestätigungsemail bekommst, während du beim zweiten Modus auf die Zulassung durch eine Moderationsperson warten musst. Meiner Erfahrung nach dauert das meist kürzer als einen Tag. Selbst im dritten Fall ist es möglich, dass du dich registrieren kannst. Normalerweise wird dann ein Text angezeigt, der beschreibt warum die Instanz geschlossen ist und/oder wie und unter welchen Umständen du dich registrieren kannst. Ein Beispiel dafür ist, wo sich Activist*innen Gruppen über Mail registrieren können. Nur wenn dieser Text sagt, dass Registrationen geschlossen sind, musst du wirklich eine andere Instanz suchen.

Was mache ich mit meinem neuen Account?

Intro Post schreiben

Wenn du neu bist, ist es immer gut einen Intro Post zu schreiben. Benutze den Hashtag #NeuHier (#Vorstellung wird auch gerne verwendet) und erzähl uns etwas über dich. Was sind deine Hobbys, Interessen, politischen Ansichten, aktivistischen Tätigkeiten und – sehr wichtig – Pronomen. Erzähl uns natürlich nur das, wozu du bereit bist. Verwende weitere Hashtags damit dein Post und du leichter zu finden seid. Ein guter Intro Post wird dir einige Boosts und gleichgesinnte Follower bringen. Eine gute Idee ist es auch, den Intro Post gleich im Profil zu pinnen. Wenn jemensch deinen Account entdeckt, kann es sein, dass deine Posts (noch) nicht angezeigt werden und dein Profil leer aussieht. Gepinnte Posts werden aber immer angezeigt.

Fülle deine (Home)-Zeitleiste(n) mit interessantem Inhalt

Anfangs wird deine Home-Zeitleiste recht leer sein, oder gefüllt mit Posts von Accounts denen du automatisch folgst, weil du dich bei einer bestimmten Instanz angemeldet hast. Das wird oft Admin-Zeugs sein, was dich vielleicht wenig interessiert. Wenn du willst, kannst du diese Accounts entfolgen und bei 0 anfangen. Als nächstes ist es aber an der Zeit Leuten zu folgen, die für dich interessante Inhalte posten. Es gibt viele Möglichkeiten diese zu finden. Zum Beispiel kannst du die Vorschläge unter den Hashtags #FollowFriday #FollowRecommendation und #FolgeEmpfehlung ansehen. Es gibt auch Listen von Accounts nach Thema geordnet, wie z.B. Trunk. Für Klimagerechtigkeit im speziellen gibt es auch eine Liste von mir hier. Dann gibt es auch noch @FediFollows mit Vorschlägen nach Kategorie geordnet in diesem Thread.

Wenn du erst mal ein paar Leuten folgst, schau auf deine Home-Zeitleiste. Dort wirst du geboostete Posts von Accounts sehen, denen du (noch) nicht folgst. Wenn dir gefällt, was du siehst, dann folge diesen um deine Zeitleiste noch mehr zu befüllen.

Wenn du das fortgeschrittene Web Interface verwendest, kannst du auch Hashtag-Zeitleisten kreieren. Suche dafür nach einem Hashtag und clicke darauf. Eine neue Spalte wird aufgehen, die Posts unter diesem Hashtag zeigt. Im rechten oberen Eck, kannst du diese Spalte anheften. Sobald du das getan hast, kannst du nochmal rechts oben klicken und zusätzliche Hashtags hinzufügen.

Weiterführende Artikel

written by Paula on 2021-01-08.

Die deutsche Version findest du hier.


Article 1: Mastodon & Fediverse for Beginners

Article 2: Fediverse for the advanced Article 3: Beginners Guide to Pixelfed

What is Mastodon?

Mastodon is a microblogging platform. Microblogging means you have a blog with short (micro) posts. Usually you'll have a 500 characters limit for your posts. Unlike well known social media platforms, Mastodon is:

  • Free Software
  • not spying on you
  • decentralized
  • part of the Fediverse

Free Software

means software where the source code is freely available and can be used according to the 4 freedoms. For you that means that you can trust that there are no evil parts in the software because otherwise someone would have already found it and there would be an uproar.


(or federalized) means that there is not one big server where everything happens, that can be hacked or have downtime. Instead there are many servers, they are never all down and hacking one won't get the hacker a lot of data.

What is the Fediverse?

Imagine Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Co were all part of one giant network. That's basically what the fediverse is, except the parts are less well known, free & decentralized alternatives to those. E.g. Mastodon is like Twitter, Friendica is like Facebook, Pixelfed is like Instagram and there are many more. If you e.g. have a Mastodon account you can follow accounts on Friendica or Pixelfed and you might not even notice, that they are not Mastodon accounts.

How to get an account

Which network?

First you need to decide what part of the Fediverse you want to join. For this article I'm going to assume you want to join Mastodon. You can also start with a different network and a lot of what I'll write about will work about the same. You will find a comprehensive list of different networks in Article 2, once it's done.

Which instance?

I'll explain instances better later. For now let's just say if Mastodon is part of the Fediverse, then each Mastodon instance is part of Mastodon. So instances are small networks. If you have lots of different interests a good start is, the official instance by the makers of Mastodon. If you have specific interests go to to find instances ordered by theme. E.g. my own instance is listed under “Activism”.

What if the instance is not open?

There are 3 registration modes for instances: “Anyone can sign up”, “Approval required” and “Nobody can sign up”. For both the first and the second mode you can just register. The difference is that for the first mode you'll get a sign up email immediately, in the second case you'll have to wait for approval from a moderator. In my experience this usually doesn't take more than a day. In the 3rd case it's possible you can still sign up. Usually there will be a message displayed explaining why the instance is closed and/or how and under what circumstances you can still sign up. An example for this is Only if the message says that signups are not possible do you really have to find another instance.

How to get started with your account

Writing an intro post

If you're new it's always a good idea to write an intro post. Use the hashtag #introduction (#introductions and #intro are also used) and tell us about yourself. What are your hobbies, interests, political views, causes and – very important – pronouns. Of course only tell us what you are comfortable with. Use hashtags so you are more easily found. A good intro post will get you some boosts and follows from like-minded people. It's also a good idea to pin your intro post on your profile. If someone discovers your profile, they might not see any posts from before they discovered you. Unless you have pinned posts that is. Pinned posts are always discovered with the profile.

Filling your (home)-timeline(s) with interesting content

At the beginning your home timeline will be quite empty or filled with stuff from accounts you are automatically following if you sign up for a specific instance. That is often admin stuff, which might not interest you. If you want you can unfollow the accounts you are following to start new. But then it's a good idea to start following people who post interesting stuff. There are many ways to find those. You can for example browse recommendations under the hashtags #FollowFriday and #FollowRecommendation. There are also some lists out there showing accounts by category. E.g. there is Trunk. For climate justice specifically there is my list here. Then there is @FediFollows with recommendations ordered by category in this thread.

Once you follow a few people just check out the home timeline. There will be boosted posts from accounts you are not following yet. If you like what you see you can follow those too to fill the timeline more.

If you are using the advanced interface you can also create hashtag timelines. Just search for a hashtag and click on it. A new column will open which displays posts of that hashtag. In the top right corner you can click to pin the column. Once you did that you can click in the top right corner again and add additional hashtags to the column.

Further Articles

Getting started with Mastodon explains the user interface quite extensively, so if you are overwhelmed at first, this might help. Though note that this guide explains the old (or now known as advanced) interface. – by Kev Quirk, written on 2018-08-13

Guide To Mastodon is a very extensive guide that covers a whole lot of topics. – by Noëlle Anthony and contributors; constantly updated

Mastodon: friendly Microblogging is a short but comprehensive guide from what Mastodon is to Statistics. – by Izzy, written on 2020-01-06

The Fediverse: the distributed social network contains lots more of articles and resources.