GNU social is a social communication software used in federated social networks. It is widely supported and has a large userbase. It is already used by the Free Software Foundation.

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GNU social 1.20.x

(c) 2010-2019 Free Software Foundation, Inc

This is the README file for GNU social, the free software social networking platform. It includes general information about the software and the project.

The file has useful instructions on how to install this software.

System administrators may find the DOCUMENTATION/SYSTEM_ADMINISTRATORS directory useful, namely:

  • upgrade_from: upgrading from different software
  • configuration options in gruesome detail.
  • how to install and configure plugins.

Developers may find the DOCUMENTATION/DEVELOPERS directory useful.


GNU social is a free social networking platform. It helps people in a community, company or group to exchange short status updates, do polls, announce events, or other social activities (and you can add more!). Users can choose which people to "follow" and receive only their friends' or colleagues' status messages. It provides a similar service to proprietary social network sites, but is much more awesome.

With a little work, status messages can be sent to mobile phones, instant messenger programs (using XMPP), and specially-designed desktop clients that support the Twitter API.

GNU social supports open standards (such as OStatus that lets users in different networks follow each other. It enables a distributed social network spread all across the Web.

GNU social was originally developed as "StatusNet" by StatusNet, Inc. with Evan Prodromou as lead developer.

It is shared with you in hope that you too make an service available to your users. To learn more, please see the Open Software Service Definition 1.1:


This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Affero General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Affero General Public License along with this program, in the file "COPYING". If not, see

IMPORTANT NOTE: The GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) has
*different requirements* from the "regular" GPL. In particular, if
you make modifications to the GNU social source code on your server,
you *MUST MAKE AVAILABLE* the modified version of the source code
to your users under the same license. This is a legal requirement
of using the software, and if you do not wish to share your

Documentation in the /doc-src/ directory is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, with attribution to "GNU social". See for details.

CSS and images in the /theme/ directory are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, with attribution to "GNU social". See for details.

Our understanding and intention is that if you add your own theme that uses only CSS and images, those files are not subject to the copyleft requirements of the Affero General Public License 3.0. See This is not legal advice; consult your lawyer.

Additional library software has been made available in the 'extlib' directory. All of it is Free Software and can be distributed under liberal terms, but those terms may differ in detail from the AGPL's particulars. See each package's license file in the extlib directory for additional terms.

Refer to for full text of the software license..


The primary output for GNU social is syslog, unless you configured a separate logfile. This is probably the first place to look if you're getting weird behaviour from GNU social.

If you're tracking the unstable version of GNU social in the git repository (see below), and you get a compilation error ("unexpected T_STRING") in the browser, check to see that you don't have any conflicts in your code.

Unstable version

If you're adventurous or impatient, you may want to install the development version of GNU social. To get it, use the git version control tool like so:

git clone

In the current phase of development it is probably recommended to use git as a means to stay up to date with the source code. You can choose between these branches:

  • 1.20.x "oldstable", few updates, well tested coded
  • master "stable", usually working well
  • nightly "testing", most updates, not always working as expected

To keep it up-to-date, use git pull. Watch for conflicts!

As in any upgrade, do not forget to run /scripts/upgrade.php.

Further information

There are several ways to get more information about GNU social.


An incomplete list of developers who've worked on GNU social, or its predecessors StatusNet and Free Social has been made available in

Current team

  • Matt Lee
  • Mikael Nordfeldth
  • Diogo Cordeiro
  • Bruno Casteleiro
  • Miguel Dantas
  • Alexei Sorokin