Many people are looking for one Twitter Alternative after Elon Musk bought the social media site last month, changed the rules of the site on impersonation, fired half of the site staff and announced plans Blue Check verification badges for sale for $8 per month.
One of the fastest growing alternatives is mastodonthat looks and feels a lot like Twitter.
But Mastodon is not a Twitter clone. It is a free open source platformoriginally launched in 2016 by developer Eugen Rochko, and consists of many different instances or servers rather than being managed by one company under one domain name.
This makes it a little harder to log in and find your friends.
There are also weird little quirks. Tweets are called “toots”. Retweets are called “boosts”. Because it’s an open-source project, it’s not as polished as social media sites like Twitter, which are owned and operated by professionals.
Email and loading can be slow. It’s a bit like using Linux versus Windows or macOS.
Mastodon has grown rapidly. In the 12 days after Musk bought Twitter, Mastodon app downloads on the Apple App Store, and Google Play for Android, they increased by more than 100 times previous rates, according to analysis by Sensor Tower, an app analytics company 322,000 installations in this period.
On November 7, Mastodon founded Rochko Products that there were over 1 million monthly active users of the service. That’s still a lot less than the 245 million+ daily active Twitter users that CEO Elon Musk tweeted about this week.
Here’s what you need to know about Mastodon:
The Mastodon home page is displayed on a hand-held mobile phone screen. It has been reported that after Elon Musk took over Twitter, more than 200,000 new users have populated the social media app.
David Bonaldo | Light Rocket | Getty Images
Since anyone can set up their own Mastodon server, there is no central place to log in like there is with twitter.com. You need to find a server to sign up for. They are referred to as “instances” and can be thought of like email providers.
A user on one instance can interact with users on other instances, including following, replying, and boosting. All instances collectively are referred to as “Fediverse”. (The term comes from “federated,” which refers to the loosely coupled way the servers work together—again, similar to email.)
Each instance has its own URL that comes after your username, much like an email domain. Accordingly, there are over 5,000 cases a website that tracks Mastodon usage, and they often follow a specific theme, e.g. B. a geographical region or a topic. Some require you to fill out a short application form with information such as your interests or why you want to join that entity. Some servers are small and only for a small handful of friends.
There is even a quiz which you can use to find out which instance might be right for you.
The most popular instance is mastodon.online, which is also managed by the founder of the service. Larger instances mean that many of the best or shortest usernames on the server are already taken. There is also a list of instances you can join at Mastodon’s website.
Unlike Twitter, many of the instances that run Mastodon are non-profit, and some raise money for server costs and other expenses on sites like Patreon. It’s possible that some instances will go out of business because their administrators lose interest.
All instances have a feed only for people on that server, showing all toots posted in that instance in chronological order. But you can also just look at your personalized feed, which only shows toots of the people you follow – it’s the experience most like Twitter.
Following is not as easy as on Twitter. If you want to follow someone on the same instance as you, press the plus button next to their username.
However, if they’re on a different instance than you, it’s best to copy and paste their entire username into Mastodon’s search box — including the part after the second “@” symbol that indicates which Server you are on.
For example: @Gargron@mastodon.social is how to follow Mastodon’s CEO. Users who are not on Mastodon.Social will need to copy and paste this entire string into their search box.
You can follow me at the address @firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no verification on Mastodon and DMs can be viewed by the instance admin. Content moderation is also the responsibility of the instance administrator – Mastodon.Social, for example, bans Nazi images. Other servers may have looser rules.
Mastodon can be a bit of a ghost town when you first sign up, but there are a few ways to find your old favorite tweeters on the platform. Whether they post a lot is another question.
One of the easiest ways to find people to follow is to search “mastodon” on Twitter, where people who have created new accounts often post their new handles. Copy and paste it into the Mastodon search box to follow them.
You can also copy and paste your Mastodon name – with the @ symbol and domain – into your Twitter account to entice your existing followers to join you.
There is multiple directories which list interesting people to follow on Mastodon.
If you want to try and follow the same people on Mastodon as you did on Twitter, there are several third-party apps that will Try importing your follow listalthough they require access to your Twitter account – be aware that you are providing this information to third parties.
It’s time to hurry up. A first post that describes your interests or topic can help others find you.
Like Twitter in its early days, Mastodon gives users the choice to use different apps and interfaces to interact with Toots and Boosts.
Twitter wanderers who miss TweetDeck showing multiple timelines on a desktop should check this out Advanced web interface option in settings to create a denser interface with multiple columns.
Be sure to check out the settings for features not available on Twitter — like auto-deleting posts and powerful blocking and muting features. A sensitive content feature can hide rants or NSFW posts behind a button. The latest version of Mastodon, 4.0, includes new features to follow hashtags, translate or edit posts, and additional content filters.
If you don’t like the instance you started on, you can export your account to another server.
Mastodon isn’t as easy to use as Twitter, nor does it have as many users generating content that brings you back day after day. But its free, open-source approach, with thousands of different servers, guarantees the platform can’t be bought for $44 billion.