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Decentralized social networking may be the future of social media as we know it. Mastodon, an app curated in 2016, is perhaps the largest scale development of its kind, offering users the opportunity to join servers based on their specific interests and niches. Self-curated communities are formed while users are invited to join servers that aren’t run by computer generated algorithms or advertisements.
So, what truly is Mastodon, and how will it shape the future of social media? Read on to find out.
Before the move to Mastodon from Twitter was the YouTube migration from TikTok and Vine. Read more about it here.
The Rise of Mastodon
Mastodon received an unusual resurgence in the media sphere following Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter in October. Many Twitter users, fearful of the drastic changes that the tech mogul had to offer, fled from the once-booming social media platform to search for something safer. What many past users have agreed upon is that Mastodon may be the best platform to replace what Twitter once offered.
Mastodon is a safe replacement for Twitter for a number of reasons, the most prevalent being its decentralized nature, open-source software, and non-profit design. This article will discuss each of these entities in detail, starting with decentralization.
Want to read more about Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover? Check it out here.
One of Mastodon’s biggest features is its decentralized interface. This is a concept that’s rather difficult to understand for anyone who doesn’t use the app, but here’s a brief synopsis of what that means.
The app is designed to be experienced through servers. Similar to the way one would join a Discord server, Mastodon offers its users to formulate their own servers, or instances, with specific rules and regulations. Servers all have genres, from activism or journalism to general, and have varying processes for membership.
Mastodon itself only runs two servers: mastodon.social and mastodon.online. This means that if you don’t want to join their servers, you can have little to no moderation from the interface at all. All other servers on the platform are user-created and developed for like-minded users.
Open Source Software
The term open source software, or OSS for short, is defined as a technical term that refers to the coding of software as being modifiable by its users in the public domain (source: https://opensource.com/resources/what-open-source). For Mastodon, this means that anyone can download the software, edit it as they please, and release it on their own server.
This software is different from typical variations of social media programs, as proprietary software is specifically owned and accredited to a singular source. This prevents others from accessing the code in the same way that Mastodon allows, authorizing only pre-determined users to edit or alter the makeup of the software. Many times, these authorized individuals are in some sort of lease agreement and have set restrictions.
Ultimately, this means that anyone who uses Mastodon may edit the software as they see fit for their specific needs. Twitter similarly uses open source software, though this is primarily due to the ease with which one may edit software for updates. Collaboration is a large benefit that comes alongside open source software, making both Twitter and Mastodon at the head of the technical community at any time.
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A major contributor to modern day stressors is content moderation of personal media. The selling of data is something that dissuades many individuals from joining platforms like TikTok or Instagram. With Mastodon, however, the app guarantees that your data is yours alone.
With a not-for-profit interface, Mastodon has no use for data collection. No ads are present, and thus no need to cater to one’s preferences and lifestyles. The servers that you join dictate the content that you view, meaning everything is catered towards your preferences anyways without data collection.
Safety is a huge feature that many social media apps cannot claim to prioritize. With Mastodon, however, it is clear that by storing very little user data and information, they are a less viable target for hacking. They also utilize two-factor authentication, which prevents users from personal account hacks.
Learn more about user-generated content here.
Twitter vs. Mastodon
|Sends “tweets”||Sends “toots”|
|Singular Platform||Federated Platform|
|Frequent ads||No ads|
|Posts in algorithm||Posts in chronological order|
|450 million active users (as of 2022)||2.5 million active users (as of 2022)|
|Verified users||No universal verification means|
|Allows direct messages||Allows public posts with tagged mentions|
|Like posts||Favorite posts|
The differences between Mastodon and Twitter are extensive, however, they do hold some similarities. Both platforms are sources for microblogging, though their interfaces are vastly different. They can both be used to mention other users, post individualized content, and share multimedia content.
The Future of Mastodon
Taking a look at the above chart, it’s obvious that as it currently stands, Mastodon is a much smaller platform than Twitter. This information, however, may be misleading in reference to the overall growth that the platform has seen since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.
Between October and November 2022, the platform raised from 300,000 monthly active users to a whopping 2.5 million.
With such a high growth rate, it’s not surprising that Mastodon continues to reach new individuals every day. As far as whether it’s a viable contender with Twitter, that’s something we’ll have to see in the coming months. As far as we’re concerned, the platform has the potential to completely revolutionize the way that we view and utilize social media in the future.
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