An elephant is playing with paper planes and trumpets are playing in the clouds. The Mastodon logo is in the centre of the image.
Technology

Mastodon – A Twitter alternative

on
2022-05-20

So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that Elon Musk is about to buy Twitter and that I will look for an alternative. Although it seems the buy is on hold at the moment, nobody knows what will happen. I am using a new service for a couple of weeks now and I think I found one, that is actually worth exploring. It only lacks one thing: You guys!

What is Mastodon?

So Mastodon is a micro-blogging service, just like Twitter. You can post text (up to 500 characters in most cases), images, videos or audio. You can take polls, follow friends and be followed. It even looks a lot like Twitter, so you feel immediately at home. But there are also big differences.

While services like Twitter or Facebook are centralised, Mastodon is federated. This means, everyone can start a Mastodon server. You can use it to create a private micro-blogging bubble or you can connect it to other Mastodon servers as in a Federation. Different servers can communicate with each other and you do not have to be on the same server as the people you follow. In other words: it is seamless.

Why is Mastodon better than Twitter?

As mentioned above, Mastodon is a de-centralised system. This means that each server is independent. This also means, that nobody is really owning the micro-blogs and therefore nobody can really sell the service. You get where I am going? People like Musk would not be able to simply buy Mastodon and take over control. Instead, the owner of each server is responsible for the services. If he or she decides to shut down, you simply move to another server.

Mastodon is also very keen on the privacy of your data. For example, you can choose to delete your Toots (they are not called Tweets, they are called Toots!) regularly and automatically. You can mark Toots as sensitive content and they will not immediately show in the timeline of others. Also: there is no advertisement. Mastodon does not implement any monetisation strategies in the software.

Why is Twitter better than Mastodon?

Well mostly because of the amount of users… Twitter has of course many more users, as the need for an alternative was just until recently not present. But as Eugen Recko, the founder and programmer of Mastodon recently posted, account numbers are rising quickly. Nevertheless, at the moment it still feels empty, although there are already a couple of people using this service (including me! See below).

Another backside of the security settings is, that if users are able to delete Toots automatically, you can’t really be sure if you can rely on citing them. I don’t know if a Toot I cite will be available in a couple of weeks. This is a trade off we need to be aware of.

Overall I still like both services and am active on both. If you want to follow me on Twitter, you can with the handle @ArchaeoBasti. If you would like to follow me on Mastodon however, you can do this with a handle that combines the server I am on as well as my username: mastodon.online/@ArchaeoBasti. See you in the Fediverse?

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Sebastian Hageneuer
Germany

Hi! My name is Sebastian. I am an archaeologist, a university lecturer, freelancer, guitarist, karateka and father. You could say I am quiet busy, so I learned to manage my time and energy to build good habits and still have space for myself and my family. Sounds difficult? Read here how I do it. Every Friday.

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