You’ve probably seen a name pop up again and again on your Twitter feed – Mastodon. You might have been racking your brain trying to figure out what Mastodon is, how it works, and whether or not you should be on it, too.
Many people have shown interest in other social networking sites since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, and Mastodon is one of them. Surprisingly, the site has grown to 9 million users with the growth fuelled by the Twitter fiascos of late. While Mastodon may look similar to Twitter, it operates differently in some critical areas.
The article will explore what Mastodon is and why a lot of people are interested in the platform.
What is Mastodon?
Mastodon is a free, open-source social media platform that is made up of independent servers. Since it is open source, anyone can set up a server, make customizations, and run a community similar to an online forum or discussion board.
People can join the platform, follow and interact with each other, and do all sorts of things they’d usually do on a social media platform like Twitter. While Mastodon’s interface does have similarities with that of Twitter’s web and mobile versions, both platforms are not the same.
On Mastodon, you’d toot instead of tweet, and if you share someone’s post, you’ve reblogged or boosted it. The platform has hashtags and lists and provides you with an opportunity to post up to 500 words to express your mind, plus the capability to add GIFs, images, and videos.
How does Mastodon Work?
Mastodon’s working is where it differs from Twitter and other social media sites. Unlike Twitter, the platform is not owned or operated by a single company or corporation, where the company is responsible for building in-app features, moderating content, tweaking algorithms, and handling all the tasks of running a social network.
Even the non-profit company, known as Mastodon gGmbH, that develops the Mastodon software can’t own the platform, as it is made up of several independent servers. When someone creates their version of Mastodon, this is called an instance. Due to Mastodon being open-source, anyone can make this instance and set their own rules. All instances, also known as servers, are owned and operated by the community that creates them.
When you create an account on Mastodon, you do it on a specific server.
- You can see the public timeline of any server without an account.
- An account is needed to post.
- With an account, you can follow users matching your own server or any other server.
- You can reply to people and boost posts of people on other servers.
- Mastodon allows you to create as many accounts on different servers.
- Some servers may be invitation-only or sign-up-restricted as per the rules set by their administrator.
How to Choose a Server?
Choosing a server isn’t a critical task, as the platform allows you to follow or interact with other people on different servers as long as the server you choose hasn’t blocked their server or their server hasn’t blocked yours.
Here are a few things you should consider before choosing a server.
- What posts you’d like to see on your local timeline?
- The server’s rules or moderation policies.
- Are there any other servers your server has blocked? If yes, then which ones?
- You can use the debirdify app to discover where the people you follow on Twitter are gathered on Mastodon.
- You can find the server you want to join on mastodonservers.net.
Can You Switch Servers?
Yes, you can. However, the platform doesn’t allow you to shift your posts on the new server. You can shift your account, and it will issue a redirect to your followers to move them to your new profile.
How to Create an Account on Mastodon?
Creating an account on Mastodon isn’t difficult. Follow these steps.
- Go to the website joinmastodon.org and click create account.
- Choose a server of your choice and again click create account.
- Once done, read the rules of the server you’re about to join and hit accept.
- After that, fill up the signup form with your details and click sign up.
- Confirm your email address, and you’re ready to use the platform.
How can Businesses Use Mastodon?
If you’re a business and looking to shift to Mastodon to use it for initiatives you’ve been running on your Twitter handle, be ready to get disappointed. Since the platform is a network of servers, businesses won’t be able to do marketing.
Furthermore, its homepage states that it will never serve ads or push a profile over others. Because a non-profit company runs Mastodon, there is no special privileges or stats available for advertisers. However, businesses can use the platform with a different perspective and benefit in the following ways.
- Market Research: Mastodon can help you do better market research. Unlike Twitter, where you search hashtags and receive an uncategorized mess of tweets, Mastodon enables you to find the right server matching your brand and its target audience.
- Affiliate Marketing: You can also run sponsorships and affiliate marketing campaigns on Mastodon by reaching out to individual accounts with a particular count of followers. However, you may struggle to find influencers on Mastodon since the number of followers is generally less than Twitter followers.
- Build Your Community: The best part, you can build your own server and run a community according to your business while having complete control over the server with your own set of rules and restrictions.
Safety Concerns Regarding Mastodon
Since Mastodon is decentralized, many security concerns arise around the platform. Recent research has found several security vulnerabilities in Mastodon’s social media network.
Each Mastodon instance is managed by an administrator who has control over its infrastructure and users’ information. It means people put their trust in administrators to secure and maintain their instance.
Mastodon doesn’t have a centralized security team or safety team, since all the instances are decentralized. On Mastodon, you are responsible for your security and privacy. That being said, you don’t really have to stop using the platform. However, as with all social media platforms, be wary of what you share on Mastodon.
While the platform has become quite popular in less time, we don’t think it will be able to replace Twitter. It’s easier to say than done because the users who claimed to be leaving Twitter haven’t really left the space. So, it won’t be wrong to say that Mastodon isn’t replacing Twitter anytime soon.
If you are looking for a new platform to grow your social identity or escape from Twitterverse, jump onto Mastodon now. Here’s a link to my Mastodon account.