PixelFed: A potential open-source alternative to Instagram

PixelFed is an appropriate Instagram alternative. It looks almost the same, to make the transition easier for people and have the same look & feel. PxelFed is open-source and a decentralized platform.

Virtual social networking is a new way of socializing. Social networks have become quite an essential part of our daily lives, whether to know what has been happening around the world and the people we know.

It is also used as a news source and sometimes, just for the heck of it. Although seemingly neat and exciting, there are a couple of problems with most of the major social media platforms.

In one way or the other, they are owned by giant multinational companies. While this has its perks, at the end of the day, it’s (in most cases) centralized, proprietary and subject to skepticism when it comes to privacy. Well, we have a contender here, that solves most of those problems for us. We are introducing you to PixelFed, a federated photo-sharing platform.


Photo sharing platforms have really taken off right now. There is an aesthetic factor in images and the fact that people don’t have to read long texts. One of the most popular services that conform to this pattern is Instagram. Instagram has become popular, and why not? It shows you the content that you like and has a clean interface. But it has the issues that we had mentioned earlier. Facebook owns it, and there is no denying the fact that personal data on Facebook has faced threats.

PixelFed Interface
PixelFed Interface

PixelFed is an appropriate Instagram alternative. It looks almost the same, to make the transition easier for people and have the same aesthetics. However, some features are still under progress, but PixelFed shows a lot of promise.

Why PixelFed?

So why should anyone use PixelFed or choose it over other services like Instagram or Facebook for instance?


First and foremost, PixelFed is decentralized. This means that your data is not stored on a central server, like the other centralized services. PixelFed has different servers or ‘instances’ that are listed here. A user can go ahead and sign up on any one of them, and start using the service.

PixelFed Instances
PixelFed Instances

Decentralized systems have several benefits over centralized systems like better privacy, stability, and more control over your data. You can find more about decentralization in our article here.


The source code of PixelFed has been made available on the GitHub page. This makes users more comfortable because they can see what is going on. They can be assured of no unethical practices going on in the background.

Hosting data
Hosting data


One advantage of so many instances is that you can sign up on a local server so that you get localized content. Another more significant advantage is that you can even host your data!

For decentralized services, more the servers, the better it is. It is common for them to allow users to host their servers. PixelFed also allows this, and so, PixelFed not only keeps your data safe but also allows you to host your data as well.


Now that we have gone over the major differences, we can focus on the features of PixelFed.


PixelFed is entirely ad-free. This also helps in saving your bandwidth and making the experience overall faster.

Privacy Focused

No third-party analytics or tracking is featured on the website, putting the users at ease about their data.

Chronological Feed

A highly reported issue of Instagram was it’s updated on sorting the feed not chronologically, but with the help of an algorithm. This affected the viewing of relevant posts, as the algorithm uses its own was of prioritizing them.

PixelFed uses a chronological feed, and there are no algorithms at work, so you get a better experience with the feed.

Features Under Progress

There are several features under progress, which will make the experience even better.

Direct Messaging

The direct messaging feature is shortly coming to PixelFed. It is like that last piece of the puzzle, which will finally make PixelFed the complete alternative.

PixelFed DM
PixelFed DM

Instagram Import

Due to the repetitive requests by the users, Daniel is also working on a feature that can automatically import all the posts from Instagram. Not being able to import their posts is the most common factor that has been making it inconvenient for users to make the switch. This feature will make the transition very much more comfortable.

Instagram Import
Instagram Import


PixelFed is currently under construction, but from what already exists, it shows great potential. I can say that the already existing interface is very smooth (me being a user myself). It doesn’t have a significant user base yet, but that is why this article is important. Something is satisfying about using a social networking platform that is safe and transparent, and you will feel it. If you are using Instagram a lot, give PixelFed a try and take a look at Daniel’s page, who created this fantastic project.

Pulkit Chandak
Pulkit Chandak is a Linux enthusiast and has been using and experimenting with open source software and hardware too since a long time. He is a huge admirer of open source software and wants to ventilate it to all around him. He is interested in reviewing and writing tutorials on Linux and its many distributions. He believes that freedom in software leads to freedom of the mind from the chains of limits.


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