What is Pixelfed social media? The people that looking for an Instagram alternative ask this question frequently. It is a decentralized platform that runs on the ActivityPub protocol, a shared protocol that enables users to communicate with other users inside the protocol, like Mastodon social media, and does not store users’ data on a central server.

The image-sharing platform defines itself as “A free and ethical photo-sharing platform” with no ads, third-party analytics, or tracking. Is it good as it sounds? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Pixelfed?

A platform for sharing social images, Pixelfed is free and open-source. It is a decentralized platform, meaning users’ data is not kept on a single server. Like Mastodon, the Instagram alternative prioritizes privacy by avoiding third-party analytics and tracking and uses chronological timelines without implementing content alteration techniques.

Discover Pixelfed, An Open-Source And Decentralized Alternative To Instagram
Image courtesy: Pixelfed

The best aspects of Instagram are brought to open-source, decentralized software by PixelFed, and in certain situations, they are further enhanced. Among the Instagram alternative’s key attributes are:

  • A familiar photo-blogging interface (UX), similar to Instagram, with Stories and Collections.
  • It runs on a decentralized architecture that is not governed by a single entity.
  • DMs.
  • Links in a post description.
  • No ads.
  • Account portability.
  • The possibility to utilize a custom domain and host a personal instance.
  • In any instance, you can follow any account that you want.
  • Compatibility with many ActivityPub-supporting systems, such as Mastodon.
  • Disabling comments.
  • Spoiler warnings.
  • Hiding followers.
  • Video loops
  • EXIF/metadata editor
  • Two-factor authentication (TOTP)

Similar to the Instagram service, which Facebook owns, Pixelfed includes photo-sharing capabilities. Users can publish photos, stories, and collections through an independent, distributed, and federating photo community made up of linked Pixelfed instances.

There is a limit of 10 images or videos per post. Depending on the available instances, users may post up to 6 gigabytes.

Any posts made by users of the same Pixelfed instance will show up on the Local Feed, while those made by users of other Fediverse instances will show up on the Global Feed. Posts from users who have been followed will appear in the Home Feed. Users who are interested in certain photographs can view them on Discover. Some Mastodon elements are present in the Instagram alternative, such as focusing on content discovery and warnings.

The image-sharing platform is a component of the Fediverse since it uses the ActivityPub protocol, a shared protocol that enables users to communicate with others who also use Mastodon, PeerTube, and Friendica. Because it uses ActivityPub, you may follow Pixelfed accounts from Mastodon and other websites.

Although all Fediverse server types accept images and video, Pixelfed is specifically designed for it and competes with photo-sharing websites like Instagram.

Discover Pixelfed, An Open-Source And Decentralized Alternative To Instagram
Image courtesy: Pixelfed

The network is similar to e-mail providers in that it consists of numerous independent websites communicating with one another. The parties concerned can still communicate even if they are not all registered with the same service provider. Users can thus register on any instance and follow people on other instances.

The TOTP mobile apps 1Password, Authy Authenticator, LastPass Authenticator, Google Authenticator, and Microsoft Authenticator are supported by the Instagram alternative for two-factor authentication.

Official apps are still being developed for both iOS and Android. You can join the iOS beta test via this link.

Users must be at least 16 years old to use it.

Check out the best Mastodon servers

Pixelfed user count

At the time of writing, the image-sharing platform has 107.491 accounts, 36.813 active users, and 310 servers/instances.

You can check the updated data via this link.

Best Pixelfed servers/instances

These are the biggest Pixelfed servers:

NameTotal usersActive users half yearActive users monthlyLocal postsCountry

You can check the full list via this link.

Pixelfed vs Instagram

Its user interface is extremely reminiscent of Instagram (minus the ads, the Stories, and the Reels). The Instagram alternative might be entertaining and helpful to attempt if you have the skills and desire to build your own Pixelfed server for use by you and your friends. However, you will generally need to go elsewhere if you want a bigger audience for social networking.

Discover Pixelfed, An Open-Source And Decentralized Alternative To Instagram
Image courtesy: Pixelfed

They are similar. Crop and filter your uploaded images or videos before sharing them with the world. Pixelfed is unrestricted, free, and expanding quickly. Its brief existence has already experienced significant changes and is a sleek contender.

Pixelfed beginner guide

Creating an account on an active node is the simplest method to get started with the Instagram alternative. However, you can install and manage an instance yourself if you want total control over your PixelFed account.

Instagram users who prefer an open web alternative can transfer their photographs to the Instagram alternative since it allows them to import Instagram accounts. From one PixelFed instance to another, PixelFed also supports exporting and importing accounts.

You can contribute to the image-sharing platform’s development on Patreon if you like using it.

For detailed information, go to the official guides.

What is fediverse?

The fediverse is a collection of federated servers used for file storage and online publishing that may connect with one another despite being hosted independently. Users can build so-called identities across many servers.

Discover Pixelfed, An Open-Source And Decentralized Alternative To Instagram
The Instagram alternative has 107.491 accounts, 36.813 active users, and 310 servers/instances


You can try Pixelfed if you’re tired of the commercials, the influencing, and the artificial feeds. There are thousands of servers already running in the vast Fediverse, and your community also has a place there. You may set your own regulations for your own online places when you manage your own community social media platform since you are not subject to the whims of technology oligopolies.

There are no entrance hurdles, and you can find a solution that works for you even if your hardware is outdated or low quality.

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