MASTODON – All You need to Know
What is it?
A decentralized microblogging site named after an extinct type of mammoth was founded by German programmer Eugen Rochko in 2016. It currently has 4.5 m user accounts. It is a crowdfunded nonprofit site. It is still in its infancy compared to Twitter with 238m active users and 1.98b on Facebook but new registrations to Mastodon are growing with 3568 in one hour.
Why Is it Different?
· It is not one cohesive platform but a collection of different independently run and self-funded servers. Volunteer administrators run the servers and join their systems together in a federation
· *There are NO adverts
· *You post ‘twoots’ and not ‘tweets’
· *Twitter limits characters in posts to each post to 280 characters whereas on Mastodon, you can have 500
· *You can EDIT your posts!
What are the Features of Mastodon?
· *You can add links, images and videos as well as audio files
· *Polls and spoiler warnings
· *You can EDIT your Mastodon posts. People who reshare your post get a notification that it’s been edited
· *Hashtags can be used to identify relevant and trending topics
· *You can repost someone else’s toot by ‘boosting it’
· *You have more control over who can see your publications – You decide whether you want them to be fully public or only for users you mention in your post
What are the Negatives to Mastodon?
· *The interface is not as user-friendly as Twitter
· *The lingo can be rather strange and Star Trekish – the servers are called ‘instances’ and Mastodon is described as part of the Fediverse
· *Direct messages are just @username posts not private messages coming in to a DM box
· * It can be difficult for others to find you
· *Your full Mastodon handle will be in the following format once you have joined a server – yourname@servername. Bear this in mind as changing handles is not a simple process
How Can I Find Accounts I Followed on Twitter?
Free apps like Twitodon, Debirdify and Fedifinder can help you track these
How do I Join?
There is no single entrance point. You choose and sign up to a specific server.
Enter a username>email address>password
How do I pick a Server?
To sign up to Mastodon, you have to pick a server. Servers have been set up based on geographical location, subject interest, professional background or any other quirky interest. The Mastodon Servers also called ‘instances’ are individual communities, each with its own rules and culture. Mastodon has more than 7500 servers so what should you look for?
Look at things like the moderation policy, the server age or even how quickly you want to use it.
* Open Registration - Some server sign-ups are instant, requiring an email address and password while others require a manual review process before you can join.
*Think about the experience you want - It can be as general or niche as you want – it’s all about personal preference. Most current users recommend a middle-of-the-road approach ie a midsized community that focuses on a broad interest.
What are the most POPULAR Servers?
– mastodon.social and mastodon.online.
The Mastodon UK server (mastodon.me.uk) is now full but you can join the waitlist
· There are currently 5 Mastodon Europe servers. Some are now full but you can join their waitlist
Mastodon’s Server Search Tool
You can search for the language most used or words included in the server’s description, the most used hashtags in the past week, the number of users etc
Can I Communicate with Someone on A Different Server?
Can I set up my Own Server
Yes and set your own rules for discussion
Can I join More than One Server?
Yes. You can join as many as you want, follow people across servers, leave or switch at any time
What do I see when I Have an Account?
You will see:-
Home Feed – shows content from the people you follow ( whether part of your server or not)
Local Feed – shows content from the people on your server
Federated Feed – shows content from people followed by those on your server
How do I know that the Site is Welcoming and Safe?
It is the ultimate free speech platform. The technology itself allows anyone to host their independent server and do what they like with it. Law enforcement procedures could close down a server like any other site which breaks rules. However, on Mastodon, when you host your own server, you can decide on your own rules which allows communities to create safer places. Any server which is promoted by Mastodon must agree to a basic set of rules eg no hate speech, no racism, no transphobia and no homophobia. No single person or company can impose their will on the whole system or shut it down
Mastodon is more secure than most social media networks in terms of fraud, bots etc. Given its much smaller size, the platform may even be safer than its rival
What Should I do about my Twitter Account?
You can either deactivate your account or lock it so that your posts are no longer public. However, bear in mind that deleting your account will remove your data from the company’s servers so retaining the account would give you more control
If you deactivate your account – pull out a copy of your archive first. Instead of deactivating it, you could just make it invisible. Twitter Settings>Audience and Tagging>click on the box that says Protect Your Tweets. This locks your account. All new posts will be visible only to your followers but Twitter warns old ones will still be visible. You can go to Notifications and prevent future messages or notifications from Twitter.
If you have not used Twitter for a while, make sure you have multi-factor authentication turned on. Also, use a password manager to create a unique and complex password for your Twitter account. An unattended account is more likely to be hijacked.
If you decide to retain your Twitter account, leave a forwarding address. Drop a Tweet pointing followers to your new home on Mastodon and pin it to your profile