Mastodon is by far the most popular ethical social network with millions of users. You can watch their official video above, which explains how the site works. It’s a bit like Twitter, but with a much longer character limit and more flexible interface.
Behind the scenes, Mastodon is a bit different to most social networks: instead of being one big site, it’s a network of thousands of smaller independent sites (called “instances”) that are all linked together. Whichever site you sign up on, you can make friends with anyone on any other site because all the sites are connected.
The process of linking together lots of small sites into a network is called “federation”. Federation may sound unfamiliar, but it’s actually a process all of us use all the time, even if we don’t realise it.
Even better, your Mastodon account lets you follow people on other alternative social networks like Friendica (see below), Instagram alternative PixelFed, YouTube alternative PeerTube and many others. This alliance of alternative social networks is called “the Fediverse”.
You can try Mastodon by signing up at one of the sites below, and you can use your account on one of the Mastodon phone apps. We’ve also done some hints and tips for new users.
PeerTube is an open source federated alternative to YouTube. It’s a video-oriented social network that doesn’t have ads and doesn’t track you. It’s still very new so there isn’t much content to view, but it’s growing very fast.
Unlike YouTube, PeerTube is made up of lots of independent sites that talk to each other. It doesn’t matter which site you sign up at, they’re all part of the same network.
Even better, because PeerTube uses the ActivityPub standard its channels can be followed by millions of people on Mastodon and other ActivityPub-powered social networks.
PixelFed is a photo-oriented social network with filters, comments, likes, shares. As an open source federated alternative to Instagram, it has no ads and no tracking. You can see an example of a PixelFed account here, and an example post here.
The network is made up of lots of independent sites that talk to each other, so you can sign up on any PixelFed site and follow people on the network’s other sites too. (It doesn’t matter if you join a big or small site, they’re all part of the same network.)
Also, because PixelFed sites connect together using the ActivityPub standard, you can follow millions of people on other ActivityPub sites like Mastodon, and they can follow you too.
Unlike Instagram, you don’t need an app to use PixelFed, it works through your browser on phones, computers and tablets. (There are also apps in development for people who prefer them.)