‼️ no longer maintained. see instead ‼️

written by Paula on 2021-01-9; last updated 2021-11-25

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: Ecko, the Mastodon Fork Article 4: Beginners Guide to Pixelfed Article 5: Beginners Guide to WriteFreely (coming soon) Article 6: Beginners Guide to Peertube (coming soon) Article 7: Beginners Guide to ... ... Article x: Beginners Guide to Hosting Your Own Fediverse Instance


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 with other pojects 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. To be exact the Fediverse doesn't even include just Social Media projects. Any software that federates using one of the protocols is part f the Fediverse.
  • 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 & Misskey

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.

Mastodon Forks

There are some Mastodon forks, so software that is based on Mastodon. They usually work about the same, but might have some extra features. I wrote a text on Ecko which is my favorite fork I can highly recommend.

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:

How it federates

From Pixelfed to Pixelfed

You can follow Pixelfed profiles from other instances and they will show up in your home timeline. There is also a federated timeline, but it is not enabled at all Pixelfed instances. The federated timeline includes all posts by profiles people on your instance follow.

From Pixelfed to 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. On Pixelfed you can upload up to 6 photos in one post (or more depending on the instance) and you can add filters, a location and a license. On Mastodon you will only see 4 photos max, they will not display with the filter and there will be no location info and no license displayed.

More on Pixelfed

I wrote another guide. See here.

Video Hosting (like Youtube)


main developer: Framasoft official website: official instance:

How it federates

From Peertube to Peertube

Full federation as far as I can tell. Again instances first have to discover, or in this case follow, other instances.

From Peertube to 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.

A Video on Peertube

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.

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 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.