Former U.S.A. President Donald Trump has raised $1.25 billion to build his own “Truth” social network to get away from the big tech social networks like Twitter and Facebook… and also because he was banned from those platforms for violating their terms of service. The “Truth” social network platform that Trump’s team is developing will be based on Mastodon which is a Fediverse social network platform that’s very similar to Twitter. The difference is Mastodon is open source, it federates with all of the other social network platforms in the Federated Universe, and anyone can stand up their own server instance for free.
Trump’s “Truth” Social developers simply installed Mastodon and made some modifications. That’s actually encouraged in the open source software community and Fediverse, but there’s one big rule that Trump’s developers ignored… the software license requires that whatever modifications you make are also open source and published. Trump didn’t do that at first, instead pretending that the Truth Social is something completely new, but they did release the source as a ZIP file when called out on violating the software license.
What is the Fediverse though?
It’s basically a network of social network servers. Instead of just one monopolistic social network like Facebook where everything that happens on Facebook is essentially owned and controlled by Facebook, the Fediverse is more collaborative and open. The thing about social network platforms in the Fediverse is that you can create an account on one server and “follow” accounts on other servers AND other platforms.
What makes that especially cool is the diversity of Fediverse platforms. For example, Mastodon is alot like Twitter, while Peertube is alot like YouTube, Pixelfed is like Instagram, and Funkwhale is like Soundcloud. You can see a whole list of different Fediverse platforms on Fediverse.Party and learn about how they differ.
Making your own.
There is plenty of documentation available for starting your own Fediverse social network instance for free. Most are going to require a Linux server, but you can build one of those at home or sign up for a cloud-based virtual machine instance. Here are a few links and videos to point you in the right direction.
Optionally, if you’ve already got a WordPress site, there’s a plug-in in development that adds Fediverse support to your existing site.
Rent your own server
If all of that sounds too complicated, there are Fediverse hosting services out there, too. You can pay someone else a monthly fee to run a Mastodon server for you and manage all the tech stuff. Masto Host is a good example. For 6 Euros/month you could get 5 users and a 2Gb database; perfect for a family… or you can make a bigger social network community with something like 2000 users for 89 Euros/month. There are plenty of other options as well, such as: MaaStodon, Spacebear Federation, and BitCap Network
Or just join someone else’s server instance
Presumably, Trump’s “Truth” social network will have all of the federation capabilities that Mastodon and other Fediverse platforms have (I didn’t look at their source code), so of course you could just join someone else’s Fediverse instance and have the same capabilities. As mentioned, a Fediverse account has full freedom to follow and interact with other accounts on completely different platforms and instances.
There’s a Fediverse Observer list of servers available where you can see which ones are accepting new users along with other info like how many users they have already and how stable they are in terms of uptime. You can choose instances that are more local to you, too. For example, if you live in Brazil, why not join a Brazillian social network?
Make sure you understand though, that joining some one else’s instance means that you’ll be governed by their policies, just like Trump was governed by Twitter’s policies. If you want to make your own policies, then make your own server.
Is Trump’s deletion from the Big Tech social networks going to help bolster the decentralized web and make more people aware of the freedom of the Fediverse? Maybe so. You should pass this article around to spread info about the Fediverse too though. I’ve been using it for some years now, so if you join, feel free to follow me here: Adam (@[email protected])