What is Mastodon? Why are people leaving Twitter for it?
What is Mastodon? What does a 'decentralised' network mean? How is it different from Twitter?
These are some of the many question people have been asking online since Friday, about the little known micro-blogging platform called Mastodon.
First released in 2016, the platform has suddenly sparked interest among disgruntled Twitter users, who are looking forward to 'saner conversations.'
It turns out that Mastodon allows users to do many things that one can do on Twitter - publish posts and follow others, share or like their post. But what exactly make it different from Twitter?
For the uninitiated, Mastodon, created by 26-year-old Eugen Rochko, is made up of many servers and all of them can have their own rules.
It not a single website like Twitter and there is also no single app that you can download to sign up. The whole concept works on what are called "instances". So, in order to create an account on Mastodon, you will have to first find an instance, for example, mastodon.social, imastodon.net or mastodon.xyz. Once you find that, there is a pretty standard account creation process that then verifies you using the email address that you provide.
However, the look and feel is pretty similar to Twitter, except that it takes some time to find your way about.
And here, the equivalent of a tweet is called a toot, a retweet is called a boost, one can “favourite” toots (like Twitter had, before it converted favourites to “likes”). The number of characters per toot is 500, as against Twitter's 280 character limit.
Eugen tooted (it's going to take us some time to get used to that) on Friday, that over 12,900 people joined the mastodon.social instance this week.
Another highlight is that there is also no concept of verifying users, so "everyone is equal" at Mastodon. There is also the concept of "local" and "federated" timelines. Which means broadly, that even if you have an account on the mastodon.social people on another instance may be able to find you and see your posts. Also, reporting bad content is also easier and better managed because every instance has a separate admin and a moderation team, along with its own code of conduct.
Funnily enough, Mastodon is getting most of its promotion via Twitter. Their official handle @MastodonProject has 18.8k followers (as of now). Its bio reads:
"The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon—Try it today for free!"
The interest in Mastodon increased in India after Twitter found itself in the midst of a controversy surrounding its rules. The row started after the accounts of a number of Twitter users, including the account of senior lawyer Sanjay Hegde, were suspended or curtailed.
Follow friends and discover new ones among more than 1.6M people; Publish links, pictures, text, video. #Mastodon is free, non-commercial, decentralized, and optimized for your convenience, not advertising.— Mastodon (@MastodonProject) December 30, 2018
Sign up on any server: https://t.co/DJqwWHjlYJ