Twitter vs Mastodon
A quick rundown of the Twitter alternative.
With Twitter in chaos, I’ve noticed a lot more people have been looking for alternatives to the microblogging platform recently. Competition would be great, but unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a clear substitute for Twitter—at least right now.
Mastodon is the name that pops up the most, but because it’s so radically different than Twitter, it’s not easy to get users to migrate there.
If you haven’t heard of Mastodon, it’s basically a decentralized version of Twitter. Anyone can start a Mastodon server, which anyone else can then join.
The creator of the server sets the policies when it comes to the types of content users can post, what the user interface looks like, etc.
So, you have a bunch of these servers— which are like mini versions of Twitter— and they can talk with each other.
You can follow people on your own server or other servers, and they can follow you back.
A familiar analogy would be e-mail. There are many different email providers—Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo Mail to name a few. They’re all different applications, but they can communicate with each other through a standard protocol (SMTP).
In theory, with Mastodon, your feed can end up looking similar to how it would be if everyone was on one centralized service like Twitter—but you have the additional benefit of being able to move to another server if you don’t like how the one you’re currently on is being run and moderated.
This sounds like a great model for social media, but there are downsides.
Mastodon is harder to start using than Twitter—you have to find a server that’s accepting new sign ups and has the moderation policies that you like.
There are also technical limitations with regard to what you can search for; you’re mostly limited to searching within the sever that you have an account on.
The severs can also be glitchy and slow since they are maintained by individuals and small groups rather than a big corporations.
Some of these drawbacks might be solved in the future, others, might not.
Personally, I love the idea of a decentralized social network and I’m going to mess around with Mastodon, but as it stands today, it’s not a Twitter killer. Maybe one day it will be.