Twitter vs. Threads Is Irrelevant: The Fediverse Is Taking Over

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

When Elon Musk bought Twitter (now X) in October 2022, over a million users jumped ship. Meta wouldn’t release Threads for another nine months, so where did those Twitter users go? The answer is Mastodon, one of many fediverse applications which can do things Musk and Zuckerberg never will.

Mastodon is a free and open-source Twitter alternative. It looks and feels like Twitter or Threads; you can write toots (tweets) with photos, videos, and everything else you would expect from a microblogging app.

But the Fediverse, which is steadily gaining users, is more than just Mastodon.

What Is the Fediverse?

When those million people left Twitter for Mastodon, it wasn’t long before many of them returned to Twitter. Familiar with the little blue bird, some missed their old followers or the time they had spent building their profile. Others, however, never really got started with Mastodon because they misunderstood how the Fediverse works.

The Fediverse is not an app, a social media site, or a platform in the way we think of Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. It’s a collection of thousands of interlinked servers running alternatives to all your favorite social networking sites.

So although Mastodon is a single platform, there isn’t a single app or website you must sign up with. There are thousands of individual Mastodon servers, so whatever your personality type, you can find one which suits you. You might want to join a server where you’re friends are or a server built around a topic, like tech or classic literature.

Once inside, you can engage with the people in your server on your “local timeline” or everyone in the Fediverse on the “global timeline.” Regardless of which server you choose, you are still connected to everyone on every server in the fediverse. So if you’re an omnivert or ambivert and feeling shy, you can communicate with only the people on your local timeline.

All of the Fediverse apps work this way. You join a server you like (or create your own) then you can access content across all the servers.

It’s a little more complicated than simply downloading Facebook and signing in. Still, the benefits of belonging to a federated social media model outweigh the inconvenience of choosing a server once.

In the federated model, no multinational company owns everything you do and post, constantly mining your data to sell to advertisers (or anyone else.) Instead, you get to choose a server you trust; if you don’t trust anyone, you can build your own.

Twitter vs. Threads vs. the Fediverse

After Elon’s Twitter takeover and subsequent rebrand to X, the future of the microblogging service is less secure than ever. And with Threads supplanting Chat-GPT as the fastest adopted technology of all time, you’d think that Meta was in the driving seat. But many users quickly discovered, Threads isn’t a replacement for X.

Threads is yet to roll out in Europe due to their strict digital rights laws, and simple features such as direct messaging aren’t possible on Threads. Despite its fast rise, according to some sources, Threads is losing users almost as quickly as it gained them.

On the other hand, Mastodon and other fediverse platforms have a much more certain future.

  • As a free and open-source project, there are no shareholders to satisfy, no advertisers to please, and no worries that the platform will become unprofitable. And with its federated model, it’s immune to cyber attacks.
  • Users also don’t need to worry about being banned; they can find a server with a ToS they agree with, and if they do get banned, moving to another server only takes minutes.

Mark Zuckerberg has promised that Threads will soon be connected to the fediverse, which will only serve to promote the benefits of Mastodon and other fediverse services. Mastodon instances expect a wave of new users when the connection goes live.

According to the Mastodon social user counter, it started July 2023 with 12,882,491 users and, by the end of the month, had 13,800,000 – Mastodon gained over 1 million users last month during the release of Threads.

A million new users may not seem much compared to Threads’ 100,000 million in the same time frame, but Mastodon isn’t the only arm of the fediverse.

Fediverse Alternatives

Developers are creating new fediverse platforms every day, from social media alternatives to personal knowledge management and commercial platforms. Many will remain small community-driven projects used by only a handful of people, but some have emerged as potential future big players.

  • Mastodon & Pleroma – Twitter Alternatives
  • PeerTube – YouTube Alternative
  • Diaspora & Friendica – Facebook Alternatives
  • Lemmy – Reddit Alternative
  • PixelFed – Instagram Alternative
  • Bookwyrm – Goodreads Alternative
  • FunkWhale – Spotify Alternative

The list of fediverse alternatives goes on.

How to Join the Fediverse

If you’re intrigued and want to try the fediverse out for yourself, here are some simple steps to help you get started:

  1. Decide which social media you want an alternative to, e.g., for a Twitter alternative, try Mastodon.
  2. Find a suitable Mastodon server by googling “mastodon servers,” or look at the official list and sign up.
  3. Download a client. For Mastodon search “mastodon” in your app store. Use the official Mastodon app or an alternative like Tusky or Ivory.
  4. Log in to your client.

Aside from choosing a server and deciding which client to use, joining a fediverse service is no different than any other social media app.

See You There!

Once you make the move over to Mastodon, look me up! @[email protected].