What is Mastodon? How to use it and more

Twitter's takeover by Elon Musk prompted people to seek out alternative platforms. This has particularly benefited Mastodon, a decentralized, ad-free microblogging platform founded in 2016. Let's find out what it is and how it works.

It has been reported that many people are leaving Twitter since Elon Musk bought the platform. Several big decisions were made soon after he joined, which irked people because of his plans to monetize basic features. Twitter has started charging people $8 for features like Blue Tick, watching, and posting long videos. It is also rumored that it plans to charge users for viewing certain videos. He has faced criticism for charging for verification badges and laying off thousands of Twitter employees. Many users reportedly switched to another platform as a result.

Although there are several platforms like Reddit, Mastodon is reportedly gaining popularity. It has been reported by BBC that over 2,30,000 new users joined Mastodon in the first week of November.

What is Mastodon?

A popular alternative to Twitter is Mastodon, an open-source microblogging platform. In contrast to a centralized platform, Mastodon consists of independent, user-managed servers. It is a server-based system that allows users to interact with each other freely. Mastodon is a decentralized social network founded by Eugen Rochko, a once-avid but now disillusioned Twitter user. In 2016, Patreon supported Rochko's launch of Mastodon.

Many aspects of Mastodon are similar to those of Twitter, though the terms and lingo may be slightly different. "Toots" are tweets, with a 500-character limit. They appear on its timeline or "feed." The toots can be favorited or "boosted" to your followers, just like a retweet.

The posts you toot at other users appear on the timelines of those who follow you both. As a Twitter user, you should already be familiar with bookmarking toots and creating lists of users showing only their toots. It should be noted that all timelines are strictly chronological. It means that posts are displayed in the order they were posted. It's a mercy compared to Twitter, which uses an algorithm to surface what it thinks you'll like. All that is done away with by Mastodon.

How to log in to Mastodon?

Install the app, tap "Get started," then select a server, accept platform rules, and create your ID and password. Then you will have to open your email service to verify your account after entering your email address. Here, the servers are called "instances." When users sign up for the app, they will be asked to choose a server right away by searching through topics and languages. There are categories such as technology, music, gaming, art, and even 'furry'. Now you're all set. Mastodon requires you to be at least 18 years old to join, but it doesn't seem to have any way to verify your age.

How to use Mastodon?

You can post anything by tapping the app's big edit button at the bottom right corner. The only thing you need to do is type your message and then hit publish. In this case, retweets and likes would be called reblogging and favorites, respectively. As soon as you log in with a server, the app shows you what people on that server are sharing. The platform allows users to search for anyone, but the content that appears in categories such as News, Hashtags, Community, and For You is contingent on what people are sharing in the selected server.

On the Home page, you will see the content of the people you are following. Your posts can be found in the profile section, just like on Twitter. Among other things, users can create polls, upload photos and videos, and post animated emojis. A privacy option lets you control who can reply to your posts.

Why does Mastodon have servers?

Mastodon is not a platform, but a network of decentralized servers. In the tech world, this is known as decentralized — which cannot be manipulated by a single entity. Hence, no single authority owns and regulates the entire communications platform (as opposed to Musk owning Twitter and changing his mind about its operation at any time). When you join a server, your posts are visible on that server. In some cases, your content can also be viewed across Mastodon networks, depending on other servers' policies.

A stark contrast to Twitter, where everything you post is visible to everyone unless you have a protected account for followers only.

What are the issues with Mastodon?

There are other problems with Mastodon besides teething troubles and moving away from the 'blue bird'. Mastodon's biggest flaw is that it leaves you at the whim of the person or organization running your server. Your Mastodon account is in the hands of the server admin - if they decide to abandon the server, you lose it. It is also possible for a server admin to snoop on private toots - or delete an account for any reason.

Should you migrate to Mastodon?

Taking into consideration Musk's views on moderation and his perception of 'free speech,' many Twitter users are concerned that the platform will become a cesspool of hate. There have already been many people who transitioned from Twitter to Mastodon, including Hollywood actor Kathy Griffin and singer Sara Bareilles.

Do you think you should use Mastodon? The process may seem complicated compared to Twitter, but it takes time to learn. Mastodon may be the place for you if you are wary of Twitter.

There aren't all the features of Twitter here, but most of them are available. Your posts cannot be saved as drafts and there is no DM section. The blue tick doesn't appear to be available to everyone. The platform does not contain any advertisements. There are a lot of people trying to use this website and the loading times are a bit slow. Notifications are not sent out on time as well. It can be fixed with an update.

Final Words

At the moment, only a limited number of people and organizations are using this platform. People may not enjoy using this service for a long time. We'll have to wait and see whether Mastodon can attract more people in the coming weeks and months.

It is important to note that Mastodon is a free service with no large funding like Facebook and other platforms.

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