It’s time to bring back the open web.

Ghost is federating over ActivityPub to become part of the world’s largest publishing network.

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We had it pretty good for a while, back there. The early days of the web were chaotic, free, and open. Everyone published unique content on their own domain. No two sites looked the same. We interacted with one another to share ideas.

Then the social networks came. They removed the complexity of running a server. They added simple social interactions. Follow. Like. Reply. Everything got easier.

But convenience came at a cost, and slowly the way we consumed information became less like home cooking and more like McDonalds.

This fast food algorithm diet was deliberately designed by technology companies to profit from our addictions. And after two decades of indulgence, the cracks in our collective consciousness are visible all around us.

The time has come to take back control, and there are good reasons to be optimistic.

For the past few years the choice has been difficult. Either participate in closed networks at the mercy of algorithms, or set up an independent website at the expense of your growth. Now, though, that entire dynamic is getting flipped upside down for the first time.

Email gave us private messaging technology that isn’t owned by a single company. You can communicate with anyone, whether you use Gmail or Outlook.

ActivityPub is doing the same for social technology. It’s a protocol that allows people across different platforms to follow, like and reply to one another. No algorithms. No lock-in. No bullshit.

The open web is coming back, and with it returns diversity. You can both publish independently and grow faster than ever before with followers from all over the world & the web.

Closed networks are in a heated zero-sum competition for users, so your reach is limited to people on the same platform.

Email, the web’s original open protocol, is used by more people than any platform or social network that has been invented before or since; because it shares users rather than competing for them.

The ActivityPub network works the same way: You get access to an audience of every person across any platform. Open networks grow larger because they don't depend on the success of any one company.

Platforms by number of users

30m (Substack)

“The fundamental shift, from platforms to protocols, appears to have momentum in a way it never has before.”

David Pierce // The Verge

So, what are we going to do with all this momentum?

In 2024, Ghost is adopting ActivityPub and connecting with other federated platforms across the web.

This means that, soon, Ghost publishers will be able to follow, like and interact with one another in the same way that you would normally do on a social network — but on your own website.

The difference, of course, is that you’ll also be able to follow, like, and interact with users on Mastodon, Threads, Flipboard, Buttondown, WriteFreely, Tumblr, WordPress, PeerTube, Pixelfed... or any other platform that has adopted ActivityPub, too. You don’t need to limit yourself to following people who happen to use the same platform as you.

Follow whoever you like, wherever they are.

We’re building an ActivityPub feed directly into Ghost to allow you to follow people, publications and topics from around the web that interest and inspire you.

You can already subscribe to Ghost sites using email or RSS, but now you’ll be able to subscribe using ActivityPub and have fresh content from all your favorite places delivered to a single, unified place. The same place you already go when you want to publish yourself.

When you do publish, your posts will appear in other people’s feeds in Ghost... and in Mastodon, and everywhere else.

An example user interface showing an ActivityPub inbox feed in Ghost
An example user interface showing an ActivityPub article reader in Ghost

Enjoy a simple, relaxed reading experience.

Long-form content deserves a dedicated design so you can read in peace, much like the way email newsletters show up in your inbox.

The great thing about ActivityPub is that each platform can design its own experience around how to present content, whilst still remaining compatible with everything else.

We’ve spent the past 10 years designing a great writing experience with Ghost. Now, for the first time, we’re going to work on designing a great reading experience, too. Which is cool because it turns out that people who write a lot also tend to read a lot.

Who’d have thought?

A universal way for people to subscribe to your work.

An example user interface showing a subscription input that supports both ActivityPub and email

ActivityPub is a lot like email, and Ghost already supports email subscriptions. This means we can use the same interface to support both. Your audience enters whatever address they’re used to subscribing to things with, and Ghost figures out the rest.

This allows your readers to choose how they would prefer to subscribe, and your work to reach farther and wider when you publish.

The great thing about this is that ActivityPub subscribers and email subscribers are all just registered Ghost members.

Regardless of the way people sign up, they can sign in, comment, like a post, or adjust the way they prefer to receive new posts from you. One benefit of ActivityPub over email is that it has a 100% deliverability rate. No more Outlook quarantine folder nonsense.

When people reply or interact with your posts in the broader ActivityPub network, those interactions will show up on your site, too.

And, because this technology is all open, you remain in full control of your subscribers.

When you publish a new piece online, your distribution comes from your own website rather than needing to depend on 3rd parties.

So how’s all this going to work?

Networks tend to work best when they’re shaped by the people who use them. So, rather than going away and working on things quietly behind closed doors, we’re inviting you to be a part of the build process, and help answer this question.

What you’re looking at here is our first step: Publishing some initial ideas, and inviting your feedback. Subscribe below to follow along with the build diary, contribute your ideas, and get early access to test ActivityPub in Ghost.

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Our dream for the fediverse is a world in which you don't have to make a screenshot to share something from one network into another network. The fediverse is all one big network. It's all connected.

Evan Prodromou Co-Author of ActivityPub

The whole point of ActivityPub as an open protocol is to turn Twitter/Instagram-like social networking into something more akin to email: truly open.

John Gruber Daring Fireball

The core idea that social networks could be more like email — in which different platforms flow into the same two-way feed for consumers, perhaps with all their rich formatting — is gathering momentum.

Ben Smith Founder of Semafor


Isn’t ActivityPub a microblogging thing?

No! ActivityPub is a protocol, like email. You can use it for whatever you like. Mastodon and Threads are built around short-form content, Pixelfed is built around images, Peertube is built around video. Ghost is going to be flexible, but generally focused on long-form, rich content.

Are you working together with anyone else on this?

Yes! Our friends at Buttondown are also building ActivityPub support right now, and we've received kind offers of help from teams at Mastodon & the ActivityPub spec authors. If any other platforms want to work together, drop us an email on

If Google, Apple, Samsung and Amazon are all able to collaborate on Matter to make their products interoperable with one another, there’s no reason publishing platforms can’t do the same.

What about premium content & paid subscribers?

We think that should work fine, too. There are multiple ways of supporting gated access to content in ActivityPub, and we're going to do our best to create a seamless experience both for publishers and for readers.

How big is the ActivityPub network?

Because it’s decentralised, we don’t have an exact total. Based on data we have about the largest ActivityPub platforms, particularly Meta/Threads, it’ll be between 170-200million users by the summer of 2024. Ghost will be adding tens-of-millions more to that total.

I don't want this and I'm very angry about it!

ActivityPub support will be optional and you don't have to turn it on if you don't want it. Sorry you're having a bad day, here's a video of a really good dog to cheer you up.

This sounds great! How do I get it?

Sign up below for early access to ActivityPub support in Ghost! We’ll be sharing everything we’re working on in a dedicated email newsletter.

If you’re currently using another platform without ActivityPub support and you’re curious about trying Ghost and enjoying 0% payment fees, we're happy to help migrate you - free of charge.

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