What is Mastodon?


For those of you who don’t know, Twitter is a service for friends, family, or coworkers to interact and connect through the exchange of quick, recurrent messages. People can post “tweets” including text, photos, videos, or links, which are then posted to your profile, shared with all of your followers, and become searchable on the app itself. In simple terms, it is a single social network where people sign up for, and share content only on Twitter. 

Twitter Changes

However recently, on October 28, 2022, Elon Musk bought Twitter and shortly thereafter gave the employees a deadline to decide if they want to work for him. Upon his acquisition of the app, and in an effort to enforce his vision for the future of this social network, Musk emailed Twitter employees saying “going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore.” He believes that Twitter is facing a hard road ahead, and if the team doesn’t take action now, the network will fall into bankruptcy. In asking those who did not share his vision to leave their jobs, Musk instantaneously was able to cut Twitter’s 7,500-person workforce in half. 

Musk also pledged his new policy regarding unrestricted free speech within the app, which has recently led to anonymous users abusing this power and trolling the app with racist tweets, Nazi memes, and other hurtful messages. 

Since this shocking and controversial social media outbreak, many Twitter users have switched to Mastodon in an effort to protest and boycott Musk’s efforts to revolutionize Twitter. 

What is Mastodon?

Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is a federated network–a collection of social networkers that link together but are owned by different people or groups. Launched in 2017, this nonprofit website yields open-source software that can be used to run social networking sites, which can be independently hosted by any user. Users on different servers can communicate with each other, but ownership of servers is spread out across nonprofits, individual admins, and devotees so that no single person has control over the whole network. In functionality, this app is quite similar to Twitter, however structurally, it’s closer to Reddit. 

Will Mastadon Replace Twitter?

Due to Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, the decentralized social media network of Mastodon has grown by hundreds of thousands of users. In the past few weeks, Mastodon reports a 55% increase in users. Recent statistics have shown that the majority of Twitter’s user decrease lies within their most active, everyday users. However, even influencers are now flocking to Mastodon to establish their stance on the subject and their concern with Musk’s future plans for the app. 

Yet, Mastodon is not replacing Twitter–it has bugs of its own and still has significantly fewer users than Twitter. Despite Twitter’s purge of employees, it is still left with around 3,750 employees, which is 3,749 more than Mastodon has, as it relies predominantly on volunteers to run different features of the system. For this reason, Mastodon is also scarce in resources compared to Twitter; while Twitter can rely on investors, Mastodon depends on grants, sponsorships, crowdfunding, and donations. Since this platform is also free of ads–meaning it does not collect the users’ data– it has no real way of increasing income the way other platforms currently do. 

No matter your user position on Twitter, we recommend checking out up-and-coming Mastodon network (making sure to do your research on how to be tech-savvy on this platform beforehand) if you favor the idea of a decentralized network that solely survives off of volunteers instead of a central authority.

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