What Is Mastodon? All About the Social Media Platform Attracting Users Since Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover – PEOPLE

November 18, 2022
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Digital News Writer, PEOPLE
Some Twitter users are looking for alternatives to the social media platform in the days since Elon Musk purchased the company.
One of the most popular alternatives is Mastodon, which describes itself as “free, open-source decentralized social media.”
The platform was created in 2016 by Eugen Rochko, a once-enthusiastic Twitter user who became “dissatisfied with the state and direction” of the platform, according to its website.
Many people have been drawn to Mastodon, in part, for uncanny resemblance to the old Twitter configuration. But it operates in a much different way.
Mastodon is a “decentralized” platform: It is “not a single website” but rather a collection of servers that connect together to form a larger network. (Twitter founder Jack Dorsey‘s newest venture, BlueSky, is expected to be a decentralized network as well.)
The “federated” network can be found on a platform called the “Fediverse,” described by The Guardian as a collection of social networks “run on servers across the world that are linked by the common Mastodon technology.”
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To sign up, users must first select one of countless servers to join, according to BBC News and The Guardian. Users can communicate between servers, or switch to another, as they please.
As BBC News noted, servers come in various themes, oftentimes based on countries, cities or interests. Selecting servers with people of similar interests can supposedly help build your community faster.
Posts, known as “toots,” can be boosted (not “tooted”) by other users, similar to a retweet. Posts are in chronological order, and there are no ads, the The New York Times reports.
Rochko wanted Mastodon to be "user-friendly" and "practical for everyday use" without it belonging to "any central authority," which he believes is part of the problem at Twitter, according to its website.
Mastodon comes with features former Twitter users may like, such as an edit button, content warnings, a 500 character limit, custom emoticons and and “extended notification bar” as well as the option to auto-delete posts.
Mastodon says it also “respects your privacy” while giving control of the network to its users.
Users can also verify themselves for free, “because the point of verification should be about actually verifying who you are,” according to the platform.
Mastodon claims to have already attracted hundreds of thousands of new users after Musk took control of Twitter, and it still appears to be gaining traction among Twitter users looking to leave the site.
Rochko told Time that he is happy to see his work “finally being appreciated and respected and more widely known.”
"I have been working very, very hard to push the idea that there is a better way to do social media than what the commercial companies like Twitter and Facebook allow," he added.

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