Following Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, more than 500,000 people have joined the fediverse (federation + universe), according to data from Fediverse Observer. As the month goes on, the Fediverse Observer stats page updates the most recent month’s numbers in almost real-time, and so far, user numbers are up by over 500,000 compared to October.
The fediverse had 5.304 million people when this article was written, and as of this writing, there are 5.825 million people there. There are many different platforms that can communicate with one another through ActivityPub, though there are some exceptions, in the fediverse. With 4.613 million users, Mastodon is by far the most used platform. With more than 600,000 accounts, Diaspora is the second most popular, and YouTube substitute PeerTube is the third most popular.
Not only new users but also new servers have grown significantly this month, from 12,597 in October to 13,963 as of this writing. Server numbers are crucial because, in contrast to centralised social media, the fediverse is made up of numerous independent instances of platforms like Mastodon, Diaspora, and others that all interact with one another.
Despite all the recent media attention, the fediverse is not a novel idea. Mastodon has been around since 2016 and has previously experienced some fanfare, which has largely subsided. Back in 2010, the New York Times published a story about the launch of Diaspora, stylized as Diaspora*. The project was started quickly by its four co-founders and later turned over to the community. Although it is still in development, Mastodon has surpassed it in popularity.
If Twitter suffers any serious consequences as a result of the move to the fediverse, that would be very unexpected. Your friends are on social networks, much of your digital history is stored there, and moving is a hassle. However, given the sharp rise in new users, it might be different this time, and we might see more users of fediverse platforms actively using them.