Started in 2010 as an off-shoot of the GNU FM project, GNU social began as a set of simple PHP scripts for joining groups and posting messages across servers, developed as a prototype for Software Freedom Day 2010 in Boston.
Initial work on GNU social was slow, until a local free software developer, Craig Andrews suggested we build our work using the existing StatusNet software, and offered to donate all of his work on StatusNet to the Free Software Foundation. From this point onward, GNU social worked alongside StatusNet — two projects sharing a codebase, and it was very difficult to explain exactly what GNU social was (or wasn't). We continued this way for sometime, until a meeting with Evan Prodromou at LibrePlanet 2012. At this meeting, Evan announced that wanted to merge his StatusNet project into our fledgling project!
Over a year later, in June 2013 we were finally ready to tell the world — StatusNet is now GNU social! Merging with both StatusNet and Mikael Nordfeldth's Free Social project, the future work on this project would be known as GNU social.