Twitter is now Elon Musk’s Twitter: the platform is a new world in itself, transforming as Musk courts advertisers and plays around with monetization plans. These changes, compounded with Musk’s constant chaotic insistence on outraging the public, has some users migrating, seeking new homes for their everyday musings (though too many are taking pleasure in announcing that choice).But what’s the alternative to a platform like Twitter? Mastodon, a social media platform that’s been around for about six years, has emerged as a potential and popular choice. The very day of Musk’s takeover, Mastodon gained 70,000 new users. As of yesterday, it’s grown to host 655,000 active users. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab)
What is Mastodon?
Mastodon is an open-source project launched by Eugen Rochko, a once-avid and later disillusioned user of Twitter. Rochko was supported by Patreon in the launch of Mastodon in 2016. Mashable reported on Mastodon back in 2017, when the app first began gaining traction amongst those looking for Twitter substitutes. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) The network is an interesting one. As their ironic Twitter account points out, Mastodon can “never be sold” and actually gives power to its users. It’s also been described as a left-leaning, and a “decidedly less toxic” mecca of communication compared to its peers.
How does it work?
To start out on Mastodon, you can download the app via the App Store or Google Play, or join a server on your browser.Like Twitter, Mastodon has a timeline with “toots” (as opposed to tweets), which can fav-ed or “boosted” (the alternative to a retweet). Toots can also be bookmarked and users can be added to lists. But unlike Twitter, content on Mastodon doesn’t fall under one communal space. Mastodon is decentralized; the platform has a network of servers which are called “instances”. Users who sign up to the app will be asked to choose a server straightaway, deciding by searching through topics and languages. There are categories like Technology, Music, Gaming, Art and Activism. Servers range from kpop.social, which is self explanatory, and tech.lgbt, a community for tech workers “who are LGBTQIA+ or allies”. There are some servers which allow people to join right away, while others hold waiting lists. The most prominent is mastodon.social, which is described as the “original Mastodon server” and has about 126,000 active users at the time of writing. images-1.fill_.size_2000x828.v1667561310 While Twitter has subcultures and dedicated communities, Mastodon takes this a step further, which can either be a welcome change or a struggle for long-time Twitter users. Each server is operated by an independent organization or individual. Mastodon may finally get its time in the sun, but there are those who won’t be able to resist staying on Twitter, whether it survives or remains a sinking ship.