The Twitter alternative Mastodon: What you should know

As Twitter users chattered about the platform’s potential impending demise amid mass layoffs and layoffs, and reported that the app had become slower for employees, some users have turned to Mastodon as a possible alternative.

The decentralized social network was founded in 2016 by German software developer Eugen Rochko, the only full-time contributor to the project, and is non-profit.

While it shares some similarities with Twitter, there are also major differences.

There is no advertising as Mastodon is funded by donations and grants.

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Its feed is chronological, unlike the algorithm-based feeds of Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

It consists of a network of servers. While each runs independently, people on their own server – or Mastodon “instance” – can connect to people on other servers as long as those servers aren’t blocked.

This photo taken on November 7, 2022 shows the logos of the social networks Twitter and Mastodon reflected on smartphone screens.

This photo taken on November 7, 2022 shows the logos of the social networks Twitter and Mastodon reflected on smartphone screens.
((Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images))

Some servers let anyone join, while others require invitation or approval, according to TechCrunch.

The outlet also points out that as part of Fediverse, Mastodon grants users access to other decentralized social networks and – since it’s open source – anyone can download Mastodon, modify it and install it on their own server.

Users can post up to 500 characters and share photos and videos.

You can also see a general public feed and follow accounts. Mastodon also uses hashtags.

SPAIN - In this photo image the Mastodon homepage is seen on a mobile phone screen.  It has been reported that more than 200,000 new users have populated the social media app following Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter.

SPAIN – In this photo image the Mastodon homepage is seen on a mobile phone screen. It has been reported that more than 200,000 new users have populated the social media app following Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.
((Photo illustration by Davide Bonaldo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images))

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However, Mastodon has officially retired the word “toot” used to describe posts. Now the “Toot” button has been replaced with one that says “Publish.”

There are more than a million users, almost half of whom signed up after Twitter boss Elon Musk took over in October, according to Rochko.

In comparison, Twitter reported 238 million daily active users who had seen an ad in the second quarter of this year, and Facebook said it had 1.98 billion daily active users in the third quarter.

A person is holding a mobile phone with the Mastodon and Twitter icon.

A person is holding a mobile phone with the Mastodon and Twitter icon.
(REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

Notably, it’s harder to find people to follow on Mastadon than on centrally managed Twitter or Facebook, and rapid growth has caused some disruption.

A key difference is verification, as there is no official process for profiles.

‚ÄúDocument-based verification and blue ticks are not possible without a central authority. However, Mastodon may cross-reference the links you place on your profile to prove that you are the true owner of those links. If one of those links is your known and trusted personal home page, it can serve as the “next best way to verify identity,” advises Mastodon.

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Alternatively, according to Mashable, people can add a tick emoji next to their name.

Both ways are cheaper than an $8 monthly fee.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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