Fediverse Rankings: Top 20 Sites Will Boast Over 300 Million Active Users By Year's End

Fediverse Logo

In 2023, we witnessed numerous sites & platforms activating ActivityPub or investing more resources into the Fediverse.

A few notable mentions include:

While 2023 was the year the Fediverse became familiar amongst the masses, 2024 will be the year when we see ActivityPub adopted by numerous social networking sites, blogs, forums, video streaming services & potentially even messaging platforms.

After previously looking at the top 30 Fediverse websites, I decided to take another look at the top sites (also known as instances), this time limited to those boasting over 100,000 total users.

Unlike the prior list, I decided only to include instances currently federating or will embrace federation this year (the latter includes Threads & Flipboard).

I am basing my rankings primarily on three aggregate websites (note: I included donation links to the respective aggregate sites as they do this for free using their resources):

I excluded Daystorm (administrated by @admin@daystorm.netz.org) as this is a testing instance & their user data is fake. I also did not include WordPress.com as that is technically a WordPress-managed hosting company & not a typical website or instance.

Without further ado, here are the top 20 instances in the Fediverse (including betas), highlighting total user accounts &/or active monthly user accounts (if available).

Threads icon

(1) Threads

Operated by Meta (formally known as Facebook), Threads will be the largest instance in the Fediverse by active user count (stats below).

Update: Meta revealed that they currently boast 130 million active users, which puts them in the second place behind Flipboard (shown below). However, the latter’s numbers are from 2020, & it is unclear if Flipboard user numbers have changed.

However, when they enable ActivityPub on their platform for all their users, they may not boast the most Federated accounts overall as Threads will take an opt-in approach to protect the privacy of their users.

While Threads will probably remain the most prominent instance in the Fediverse, the instance in the number two spot might boast more ActivityPub-enabled accounts in the Fediverse.

Flipboard icon

(2) Flipboard

Best described as a social networking magazine, Flipboard is comparable to Google News, except humans curate news stories.

Flipboard is for news enthusiasts & as a bonus, the apps & website are a feast for the eyes.

Update 2: According to TechCrunch (props to Craig Smith from Expanded Ramblings for locating this info), Flipboard has north of 100 million active users in 2022, although it is unclear if their current number is less than 145 million active users. For now, I will keep them in the number two spot.

Eye candy aside, Flipboard could play a critical role in distributing information worldwide, especially with large corporations like Google & Facebook geoblocking news articles over legal disputes.

Minds lightbulb icon

(3) Minds

Due to their heavy embrace of cryptocurrencies & freedom of speech (as in they allow any & all types of legal speech, including controversial rhetoric), Minds is viewed by numerous instances as a controversial platform.

However, as of this post, Minds is currently the largest federated instance, although they will drop to third place once Threads & Flipboard activate ActivityPub. Minds software is also open source, & the site & software were created by Bill Ottman, John Ottman, Jack Ottman (lots of Ottmans! πŸ˜‚), Mark Harding & Ian Crossland.

Unlike many instances that are either funded by advertisers or donations from users, Minds offers premium hosting services to individuals, communities & companies via their plus, pro, & network plans (the latter which can be run under a custom domain).

Minds is a freemium platform, as their basic plan is free for everyone, regardless of viewpoint (as long as it is legal in the United States πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ).

Mastodon Social header

(4) Mastodon Social

Started by Eugen Rochko, this flagship Mastodon instance helped popularize ActivityPub amongst the masses & is currently the largest Federated site powered by Mastodon.

As of this post, the software Mastodon boasts over 14.5 million total user accounts, & over 1.5 million active monthly user accounts (all across 9500 plus instances).

Mastodon Social is financed by a plethora of generous donors (myself included), & it is one of the two Mastodon instances run by the non-profit Mastodon gGmbH.

Lemmy Icon

(5) Alien Top

Alien Top is the largest Lemmy instance in the Fediverse and the third largest Federated instance powered by open-source software (after Minds & Mastodon Social).

For those looking for a Reddit like community that is not corporate owned & ActivityPub powered, Alien Top appears to be a prime location for those who love engaging & communicating via forums.

Pawoo Header

(6) Pawoo

Pawoo is the second-largest Mastodon instance & the most famous Japanese instance in the Fediverse. Ownership of the site has changed a few times, with the current owner being Suji Yan, who incredibly owns three of the top ten instances in the Fediverse (including Pawoo).

Pawoo was previously the most popular instance in the Fediverse (holding the title for several years) & it was only recently surpassed by Mastodon Social.

The site is currently the most popular non-English instance in the Fediverse (most of the posts are in Japanese), & is now operated by the Social Coop Limited.

I want you for Misskey development

(7) Misskey

Misskey is the flagship instance for the Misskey Software, which powers the website. The Misskey website & software were created by Eiji Shinoda, who online is known more commonly as Syuilo.

Misskey Software boasts over 700,000 total users across 1200 instances, of which 11,700 are active (at least once a month). Software development & the flagship instance of Misskey are financed primarily by donations from passionate fans (including yours truly).

The Misskey flagship website is the second most popular Japanese instance in the Fediverse, & is (not surprisingly) the most popular Misskey instance online.

MSTDN Japan header

(8) MSTDN Japan

MSTDN Japan is the second significant instance owned by Suji Yan, & the third most popular Japanese-speaking instance in the Fediverse.

The instance is powered by Mastodon & MSTDN Japan is the third largest Mastodon instance in the Fediverse (after Mastodon Social & Pawoo, respectively).

Adults Only

(9) Baraag

It brings me no pleasure to type about this next instance, which is powered by Mastodon & in the past, has been highlighted by Fediverse detractors attempting to slander either Mastodon software or ActivityPub-powered websites in general.

Called Baraag, this site is renowned for boasting users sharing highly unethical (but under the United States πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ, constitutionally legal) content, often involving children (users of the site test the legal limits of American law).

Baraag is probably one of the most blocked instances on the Fediverse, yet despite being shunned by the community, the site somehow makes the top ten list.

Mastodon Cloud header

(10) Mastodon Cloud

Mastodon Cloud is the fifth most prominent Mastodon instance in the Fediverse, & is also the third Mastodon instance owned by Suji Yan (who currently owns 3 of the top 10 instances in the Fediverse).

Unlike Suji Yan's larger Mastodon instances (Pawoo & MSTDN Japan), Mastodon Cloud users post content in a variety of languages, including English, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish & German, which might make this the largest diverse instance in the Fediverse after Threads.

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(11) Pravda

Powered by Mastodon, Pravda is the most prominent Russian-speaking instance in the Fediverse, & the name Pravda means β€œtruth” in Russian.

The site seems to have been partially inspired by a post/tweet by Elon Musk, the latter who joked about starting a site called Pravda to rate the credibility of journalists online.

Decades ago, Pravda was also the name of a prominent newspaper in the Soviet Union, which might partially be the inspiration for the name as well.

MSTDN Social header

(12) MSTDN Social

MSTDN Social is the 7th largest Mastodon instance in the Fediverse, & is a general-purpose Mastodon site run by a famous cat lover known as Stux online.

Stux is known for hosting & maintaining instances powered by other ActivityPub platforms (ranging from Pixelfed to Peertube), although this is the only instance to appear in the top 20 list.

Mastodon Online header

(13) Mastodon Online

Mastodon Online is the second Fediverse instance started & maintained by Eugen Rochko (the creator of Mastodon).

The purpose of the second site is to demonstrate the power of Mastodon by showcasing how users of two different sites communicate with each other in the Fediverse.

Although not as prominent as its larger sibling (Mastodon Social), Mastodon Online is still popular enough to be listed in the top 20 Fediverse instances.

Mastodon World Header

(14) Mastodon World

Mastodon World is a general-purpose Fediverse instance that is (obviously) powered by Mastodon.

Mastodon World is one of two major ActivityPub platforms run by Ruud, & both of them are popular enough to be featured in the Fediverse top 20 websites (the other site is featured at number 16).

Mas.to Header

(15) Mas.to

Mas.to is a general-purpose Fediverse instance, & the last Mastodon instance to make the top 20 list (Mastodon powers half of the sites listed here).

The site is primarily in English, & is most notable for its short domain (which is harder to secure nowadays).

Lemmy Icon

(16) Lemmy World

Lemmy World is the second largest Lemmy instance in the Fediverse, & is also the second instance run by the famous Ruud.

Although not as popular as Alien Top, Lemmy World does sport a better user design/layout than Alien Top, which might make it more appealing to newcomers desiring to experience the Fediverse, albeit through the lens of a forum.

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(17) Micro Blog

Despite being proprietary & centralized, Micro Blog is probably the most popular ActivityPub-powered blog platform in the Fediverse. Users can post underneath Micro Blog's domain or use a custom domain (the latter, which I highly recommend).

Founded by Manton Reece, Micro Blog allows users to easily connect to the Fediverse, as well as cross-post to various other platforms, including Mastodon, Tumblr, Medium, LinkedIn, Flickr, BlueSky, Nostr & Pixelfed.

Unlike other platforms listed, Micro Blog is a premium service, which covers the expense of hosting content on the site.

Twitter Fail Whale

(18) Bird Makeup

Featuring this instance is somewhat controversial, considering its sole purpose is to pull desired content from X (formally Twitter) & make those posts available on the Fediverse.

Created by Vincent Cloutier, Bird Makeup's site depends entirely upon X, the latter whose continued existence is in doubt thanks to Elon Musk's shenanigans.

Although there are no original users on the site, some folks find it helpful, as Bird Makeup allows them to follow accounts on X without engaging with the crazies on X.

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(19) Diaspora

Diaspora is the flagship instance for the Diaspora Foundation, whose software can be comparable to Facebook (just decentralized & federated).

Diaspora was started by Ilya Zhitomirsky, Dan Grippi, Max Salzberg, & Raphael Sofaer in 2010 & the software supports cross-posting to WordPress & Tumblr.

Pixelfed icon

(20) Pixelfed Social

Pixelfed Social is the flagship instance featuring the Pixelfed software by Daniel Supernault. It is best described as a Federated Instagram alternative, where users can host photos & videos on their domain yet still communicate with everyone else on the Fediverse.

Over 219,000 people have experienced Pixelfed firsthand (across almost 1,000 sites), which is a testament to the fact that a single individual primarily maintains the software.

Although known primarily for showcasing the power of Pixelfed, the primary Pixelfed instance often leads the way in pioneering new & innovative tech, especially when it comes to moderation (dealing with spam, trolls, etcetera).

Conclusion

This list could easily change throughout 2024, especially if other significant platforms decide to join the Fediverse. However, it is exciting that the Fediverse will expand from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of users this year.

πŸ‘¨πŸΎβ€πŸ’» by Darnell Clayton πŸ”› @darnell@darnell.day

πŸ•ΊπŸΎ Follow my adventures upon: πŸ‘‰πŸΎ @darnell@one.darnell.one 🐘 (Mastodon) πŸ‘‰πŸΎ @darnell@darnell.moe 🦁 (Misskey) πŸ‘‰πŸΎ @darnell@darnell.ooo πŸ“Έ (Pixelfed)

πŸ¦ΉπŸΎβ€β™‚οΈ Other digital havens: πŸ‘‰πŸΎ @darnelltv@darnell.tv πŸ‘¨πŸΎβ€πŸ’» (WordPress) πŸ‘‰πŸΎ @darnell@threads.net 🧡 (Threads) πŸ‘‰πŸΎ @darnell@flipboard.com πŸ“° (Flipboard)