It’s a good day when metal enters the mainstream discussion, and those checking Twitter’s trending section might have been excited to see Mastodon being discussed in such a major way on Monday (April 25), but alas, the talk was not about the band but rather the popular choice for a Twitter alternative amid news of Elon Musk’s attempt to buy Twitter.
As talk has strengthened in recent days that Musk is reportedly nearing a deal to purchase the popular social media platform, those fearing that his desire to bolster free speech on the platform will lead to a more combative experience have started looking for alternatives. And striking while the iron is hot, Mastodon, the social media platform, just launched their Android version of their decentralized social networking platform within the last few weeks.
So what exactly is Mastodon and why are people showing such interest in it? Well, as it is a decentralized social network, there is no one server or no company owning it. It’s described as an “open sourced social network similar to Twitter, users can make profiles, send messages and user videos and of course follow other uses.” Users are allowed to message with a 500 character limit and it comes with a feed that is chronological, ad-free and utilizes a non-algorithmic approach.
As for how it works, instead of a company running things, each person is allowed to create their own server and each server is called an “instance.” Anyone can create their own “instance” with their own set of rules that operates by the community that sets the standards. These “instances” are often crowdfunded rather than financed, and as it is decentralized, the “instance” can’t be sold or blocked by governments. And it is the goal to keep Mastodon as a non-profit platform.
And as far as finding your “instance,” you can join communities broken down on regional specifics, through LGBTQ+ and through specialty interests such as art, music, activism, gaming, technology, humor, food and more. The platform initially launched in 2017 as an alternative for Twitter users who were already growing tired of the abuse and hatred shared on the platform.
That said, discussion about Mastodon and the pros and cons is part of why it’s currently trending on Twitter. As you might expect, it does come with both similarities and differences to Twitter and that in itself has led some to embrace and others to shun the platform. Plus, as with many newer platforms, there’s a growing and adjustment period with some initially turned off by Mastodon perhaps being more accepting as it has continued to evolve.
A sampling of Twitter discussion on Mastodon offering both positive and negative responses can be viewed below. If you want to know more, head here and check out the video at the bottom of this post. If you’re looking to join, you can do so here.