Mastodon is one of the alternatives that users are handling before the purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk, the changes that the billionaire is promoting and the general perception that the social network is not going to improve on capital issues why many of us who started with it have abandoned it: hate messages, hoaxes and disinformation.
Twitter is going to change and not for the better. Although young people bet mostly on TikTok and Instagram, the microblogging site is still the most influential social network on the planet. Musk is a billionaire, he has taken Twitter out of the stock markets and in principle he can do whatever he wants since he does not have to answer to investors. Or not as much as if it were a listed company, since there is significant financial support behind it, such as the 13,000 million dollars provided by Morgan Stanley.
Musk is at the helm of big businesses like Tesla or SpaceX, but it is not clear if he is going to recover the huge investment in Twitter or sink the platform due to his inexperience in running something so politically sensitive and administratively more complicated than the rest of how much he has. . The dismissal of half the staff can be financially convincing, but dispensing with so much talent does not invite you to think of anything positive to start with. In fact, they are rehiring some of them… Neither is the mess in Twitter Blue and the payment of a subscription to access the verification system that, from what we are hearing, will be the way to “be someone” on Twitter.
Last but not least, the promise of “freedom of expression” if it does not carry out a comprehensive control of messages, hate and disinformation, it will cause a authentic chaos and the fright of the users They don’t want any more garbage. We’ll see what happens. Like everything, your life does not depend on Twitter and there are alternatives. Or you can consider taking a break from social networks as those of us who started with them have been doing for a long time and have ended up exhausted…
What is Mastodon?
mastodon is, essentially, a clone of Twitter. It offers many of the same social networking and microblogging site features found on Twitter, including the ability to mention other accounts; post content that can only be seen by your own followers or the general public; sharing of multimedia content such as images, videos, animated avatars, personalized emojis and even the creation of surveys. In addition, Mastodon offers its users access to the publications of their followers in a feed chronological news feed, which addresses one of Twitter’s user complaints.
If at first glance you can do the same as on Twitter, its operation is radically different since it is a decentralized network where communities have much more freedom to build their own network, large or small corners in moderation of their own. Although these communities exist on a wide range of servers, Mastodon makes it possible for servers to co-exist in a unified environment, meaning that one user can follow and view the content of others spread across multiple servers using a single account.
How does it work?
Mastodon is a platform of open source and free access. Users can access through a large number of third-party mobile applications (some of them free and some of them paid) and each of which offers a variety of functions.
Mastodon can also be accessed from desktop and through a web browser on a mobile device if you don’t want to install any clients. Based on open web protocols, Mastodon can talk to any other platform you implement ActivityPub. With an account you will have access to a whole universe of social applications: the fediverse.
Plus, anyone can start their own server, assuming you have the funds and know-how, and build a community on it, which offers a kind of flexibility and a host of possibilities that go far beyond what’s available on Twitter. . Accounts are created on one server, although there is an option to move them to a different one.
Regardless, users can view the content and interactions of users who created their accounts on a different server assuming that instance is federated with others, so despite its decentralized nature, Mastodon functions as a platform where everyone can take part. Many servers are created around particular themes, technology, cinema, art, music… There is a lot to choose from. That said, not all servers are open to the public which limits their access and some even require interested users to join a waiting list in order to (possibly) gain future access to the communities.
Most of the communities you can find on Twitter are also found on Mastodon. Its managers say that there are currently more than 3,600 servers on the network and 655,000 active users. Very little for the millions of Twitter users (238 million), but growing at a great rate. It happens as with other great applications that have cornered the market, it is very difficult to move users.
What we like most about this platform is its decentralized design and the flexibility of use that it brings to the user. Its managers say that “Instant global communication is too important to belong to a company. Each Mastodon server is a totally independent entity, capable of interacting with others to form a global social network».
With thousands of servers and more to come, anyone will have the opportunity to find a group that interests them and offers the type of experience they are looking for. It is not mandatory to isolate yourself, and you can participate in the communities you want except for the commented ones that are not open to the general public.
Another of its advantages has to do with its open source nature and the right to research the code, use it, copy it or adapt it. With this, any developer can create their own application to access the platform, so users are not restricted to a single official one that can be removed or have bugs at any given time. Apps are available on all major platformsincluding Android and iOS, free and paid.
And control by the communities, not by the company. Mastodon puts the decision making in your hands as each server creates its own rules and regulations, which are applied locally. Each of them offers something different, so users who want a less moderate experience have the opportunity to find like-minded communities.
The organization behind the platform (non-profit) explains that this local moderation allows communities to function in the way they think is best instead of requiring them to follow a set of general rules. Another element to value is that it has no advertising, in addition to the fact that there are no algorithms that decide what you see and where you are. «We will never publish ads or advertise profiles so you can see them, which means that your data and your time are yours and yours alone»they explain.
Some less positive points
The decentralized nature and local moderation of Mastodon they are a double edged sword. While it offers communities more freedom compared to Twitter, it means that some servers are also quite toxic and include the kind of racist, sexist, hateful and negative comments and content that are not even allowed on centralized platforms as much as Musk let the little bird fly free. Mind you, it’s as simple as avoiding these online destinations, as there is no central company to moderate or delete the content.
Another issue is that the Mastodon experience can initially seem overwhelming due to the way the servers, called instances or nodes, function like little islands. Each instance has its own post feed, and depending on the software you’re using to access the instance, it can be difficult to switch between content streams across multiple instances.
Finally, the platform has also been criticized for focus too much on trying to clone twitter and less in taking advantage of its differences and advantages, which can make it less attractive to the masses. Even user posts are called “toots,” which is clearly a play on the term tweets.
How to get started with Mastodon
Because Mastodon is defined by an ocean of instances (servers), there is no single place to register. Instead, you will need to first find a server that you find attractive and create an account on it. Perhaps the most popular server is mastodon.social, but there are many others to choose from. You can also start from the official web portal and search for servers. When you find one you like, assuming it allows you to join, joining the platform is as easy as joining the server and creating your account with name and password.
You can do it from a web browser, as a progressive web app with push notifications just like native software. You also have available clients for mobile, iOS, Android or SailfishOS. When you go to create the account, you will see the rules applied by that particular server.
The aforementioned mastodon.social, as an example, prohibits racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and the like, does not allow its members to promote or call for violence, prohibits disinformation and other things that you would commonly find in a conventional social network. . After accepting the terms presented by a Mastodon server you will be able to choose the name by which other users will see you and which will be the same for the login. For the example, it will be attached to the “@mastodon.social” suffix and you can use it as something similar to a URL for others to connect with you.
Twitter is unique by operation and number of users. And it is difficult to replicate, but those tired of Twitter, in addition to Mastodon, can find a new home on other platforms such as Reddit, CounterSocial or even Discord. Of course, you can follow on Twitter or you can give a good rest to body, mind and soul and disconnect from all… at least every so often. You can live without Twitter, really, and we tell you that after we debuted in the summer of 2006 when it was launched and use it as professional MC medium with more than 42,000 followers.