There are a whole lot of brouhahas on Twitter since the platform was purchased by Tesla’s founder Elon Musk. The platform has recorded a number of celebrities deleting their account for one reason or the other. This led to many seeking to find another best similar app or platform that works like Twitter.
You could always try Tumblr, which recently rolled back some of its policies on NSFW content. You could even try TikTok, though it doesn’t necessarily provide the same kind of news coverage as other sites might.
Then there’s also Mastodon, which was initially launched in 2016 but received a “stable release” in May 2022.
If you’ve never heard of Mastodon before but are considering alternatives to Twitter, here’s a quick guide on how to use it.
What is Mastodon?
Mastodon is a Twitter-Esque social app, that allows you to join a particular server and interact with other users on the platform. It differs from Twitter in that it requires you to choose a server to start from.
Mastodon isn’t a Twitter clone. It’s a free open-source platform, originally launched in 2016 by developer Eugen Rochko, and it’s made up of many different instances, or servers, instead of being managed by one company on one domain name. This makes signing up and finding your friends a little bit harder.
Unlike with Discord or Slack, you’re not limited to that one server. It’s essentially your online house, with the ability to cross the street to see everything just a few clicks away. The major problem at the moment is finding a particular server that’s relatively populated for those without immediate connections from Twitter.
While you can see everything, there’s a definite issue with regards to onboarding. Usernames aren’t just ‘yourusername’, but ‘email@example.com’. Searching for someone outside of your server requires you to know what server they’re on and what their username is. Without this information, you could wind up following someone else.
However, the web interface is fairly familiar to those already used to Twitter. For those of us who enjoy Tweetdeck’s more in-depth view, there’s an advanced viewing option hidden in the settings.
Mastodon also comes with some great features, like an increased limit to 500 characters and content warning tags. It is quite cringeworthy that they’re called ‘toots’, with the creator of Mastodon, Eugen Rochko revealing that it was the fault of YouTuber Hbomberguy.
Mastodon already has nearly 7 million subscribers, but this figure remains derisory compared to Twitter and its 395 million accounts.
With controversies on other platforms, some users took to Mastodon as a means of speaking more freely. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to cyberbullying. Additionally, with less moderation than larger social media platforms, young users especially are more vulnerable to grooming, scams, and other online risks.
How to join Mastodon:
To join Mastodon, you’ll need to sign up and choose a server. Once you’ve decided where you’re going to be posting from, you can then start to follow pretty much anyone.
It’s very easy to get accustomed to its eccentricities. However, a lot of servers are currently taking manual applications. This means you’ll have to wait for a human to let you in. Others, like the mastodon, the social server is currently closed to sign-ups.
You can find ones that are specifically designed for a niche or even ones for your local area. You can move your account over to another server, and even see others via the ‘Federation’ tab.