No one person owns the internet. The same is not true for the services that run on top of it. Some services it makes sense to follow this model, others it makes less sense. The new kind of network model (well not really new, but seeing more of them) is a Distributed Federated Network Service (DFNS). In this article I will go over what a DFNS is, why it's important, why you should use one, and a few examples of currently existing DFNS's.

What is it?

A Distributed Federated Network Service (DFNS) has the following characteristics:
 - If I have a server with an instance and you have a server with an instance they talk to each other.
 - I own my server and you own yours.
 - It runs on the internet

I am not a spokesperson for any of the services I use as an example. I am not paid by any of them either.

Why is this important?

Federated is important because...

If one service goes down we want the least ammount of people to need to find a new service. For example, google hangouts provides call, vid call, and chat. Only google customers can use the service and chat within it's service. Let's say one day either google and it's services disappears or they decide to shut down that service. Every user will have to find a new service and find their friends again on it. If it were federated then google hangouts could talk to yahoo hangouts (not a real thing) and also to bing hangouts (also not a real thing) and keep the same functionality for everyone.


If it's federated and one company owns every instance then we still have the same problem. If google goes down all of the instances will, at least eventually, go with it.

Runs on the internet

To work it needs an existing infrastructure everyone already uses, that is already a DFNS to work. The internet is already here and it works.

Why should i use one?

When you use a DFNS it becomes more prominent and popular. By choosing to use a service you are casting your vote into whether you want it to live or die. Donating money takes it a step further, but if you don't have money to give then at least by using it you are a part of the user base.

Real Life Examples

Matrix is a DFNS for communication. It supports voice calls, Vid Calls, and chat. All of these include E2E encryption.

Matrix is more of a protocol ( It defines a spec that others can implement themselves. As long as it's implemented correctly, it will federate with the rest of the matrix network. This is also similar to how the internet itself works. You don't need to have matrix's implementation (synapse) of it to have your own.

If you want to use it today check out it's a completely free service which will offer paid tiers in the future. The service currently has network bridges for slack, gitter, and irc. You can use to talk to other chat services you use. has an android app, ios app, desktop and web application available as of now. I would place this service at beta currently with improvements and updates happening fequently. Even though I say it's beta, it's completely useable now. I use it to integrate with slack channels and irc channels.

For you nerds out there, there is a matrix command line client.

The Librem5 phone, currently being crowd sourced by, will be a matrix first communication platform and traditional call second.


Mastodon is a micro blog social network like twitter, except open source and a DFNS. You can set up an account on one server and follow it on another. Mastodon isn't fully open though, individual instance owners can filter and block other instances that have different terms of use. If you want to find an instance that filters content according to your tastes, this tool is useful

My mastodon handle is go ahead and 'toot' at me.

I would rate this as prod ready.


LBRY is a DFNS content sharing platform. you can share pictures, video, and other kinds of content. You can charge people for your content, or give it away for free, or some sort of weird mix of the two.


Distributed Federated Network Services provide a more stable future for network services we use. What network services you choose to use affect what network services you will get.