Note to personal friends… If we obviously know each other and you want to join Mastodon, contact me privately by email or Facebook Messenger. I will send you an invitation link to join my server at Mastodon, which will simplify the process and leapfrog you through sign-up. Read below & you’ll understand.
Elon Musk has wrecked Twitter since he bought it in October for that ridiculous sum of $44 billion. Some people have too much money! A friend on Facebook said, “I have never understood the appeal of twitter.” I responded that Twitter is effectively been a universal town center or world community. I told him “There is no other single international gathering place online with the scope & reach of Twitter. Nothing close. Of course this can be used for good or bad, and right now Musk seems intent on magnifying the negative.”
At the time of this discussion I was intending to ride out the storm with Twitter despite my displeasure with Musk’s antics. As I wrote my friend, “Virtually every newspaper, politician, social organization, union, government, community leader, celebrity, average Joe and, yes, rightwing troll, posts to Twitter. The New York Times, Cuba’s Granma, the Ukrainian government with war updates… it’s all there in real time.”
My patience has since worn out and I announced earlier this month that I am quitting Twitter. Tonight is the night. I have pulled the plug and closed my account after 14 years. And it’s too bad! I will miss a lot of people and entities that I followed at Twitter.
This might seem a trivial reason, but my breaking point came about two weeks ago when Musk suddenly banned all third-party client applications. I never liked Twitter’s own app on my iPhone and iPad. It doesn’t give me enough control over my feed, it’s frustrating to use and is visually cluttered. It was bad before Musk and is even worse now. Eventually I discovered a wonderful third-party app called Tweetbot. It transformed the experience of using Twitter — until suddenly on January 13 Tweetbot and the other third-party apps all went dead. At Musk’s order. Now only Musk’s own app works.
I started looking for Twitter alternatives and quickly settled on Mastodon, the fastest growing platform that’s attracted a lot of Twitter refugees like myself. It’s still new and still quite small — only about 1.6 million users versus Twitter’s 330 million. But Mastodon has some appealing features and I have confidence in its future.
Mastodon is an open-source, decentralized, not-for-profit platform with no private or corporate ownership or control. There’s no Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg calling the shots. There are no advertisements. It can’t be sold or bought. Mastodon is actually many platforms or servers set up worldwide, all linked together in a federation — often called the “Fediverse.” Each server is independently run and moderated. Anyone who wants can set up their own server, link it to the Fediverse and be the moderator. Mastodon is truly decentralized and democratic!
When you sign up with Mastodon you have to choose which area or server (called an “instance“) that you want to join — however once done you can follow and interact with anyone anywhere within the Fediverse. Basically, after the initial setup it’s all pretty much like Twitter — but without the crap. Mastodon has a 500-character limit versus Twitter’s 240 limit.
Getting Started in Mastodon
For most people, probably the hardest part in signing up with Mastodon, or at least the most intimidating, is picking the area or “instance” where you want to reside. This step isn’t necessary with Facebook or Twitter since they’re each a single self-contained platform.
Don’t let this first step overwhelm you too much. It’s different, but it’s not hard. It took me just a few minutes. Mastodon provides a page where you can explore the different areas or instances and choose one. The Ivory app discussed below will walk you through it.
If it’s easier, you can just do what I did. I picked a generic “social” instance (@mstdn.social). I’m happy there. I can still follow anyone from anywhere on Mastodon, just like I could on Twitter. And if I decide later for some reason that I want to move to another instance, I can.
One of the attractions of Mastodon for me was that Tapbots, makers of the Tweetbot app I had used on Twitter, announced they were launching an iOS “Tweetbot” for Mastodon called Ivory. Tweetbot was a beautifully-designed and powerful app, and Ivory is looking to duplicate the Tweetbot experience. It’s available now through the Apple App Store in “Early Release” status. Tapbots was forced to switch from Twitter to Mastodon literally overnight without any advance notice. They had to frantically crank out this new app so a lot of features are missing, but updates will be forthcoming. I already love Ivory even in this initial skeletal form. (The video below on third-party apps will show you Ivory.)
Mastodon frankly needs third-party clients like Ivory. Despite its many strengths, visually Mastodon by itself isn’t exactly pretty. Mastodon’s UI needs a facelift both on browser and its own native iOS app. The third-party apps like Ivory are way more attractive and also add features and functionality.
I should note here that access to Mastodon via Windows and Android is also possible, but my knowledge is pretty much limited to the Apple ecosystem. Ivory is iOS only. Sorry!
Hello, Post News!
As I leave Twitter, I’ve decided not to put all my eggs in one basket so I’ve signed up also with Post News.
The Wrap explains what Post is: “Founded by former Waze CEO Noam Bardin earlier this year, Post seeks to build a melting pot of multiple perspectives and news that inspires ‘meaningful discussions with friends, strangers, experts and leaders.'”
Continuing… “‘Remember when social media was fun, introduced you to big ideas and cool people, and actually made you smarter?’ … ‘Remember when it didn’t waste your time and make you angry or sad? When you could disagree with someone without being threatened or insulted? We want to bring that back with Post.'”
Post News is really quite an impressive new platform — even smaller that Mastodon at this point, but with tremendous promise. Post is beautiful aesthetically, and it allows for longer and more thoughtful posts without a character limit. There’s no app for Post. It’s accessed only by web browser but can be used on computer, phone or tablet.
RESOURCES FOR MASTODON
I hope you’ll join me at Mastodon! If you think you’re interested, here are resources you might find helpful.
◼︎ Mastodon’s Guide to Picking Your Server (a.k.a. “instance”)
◼︎ Mastodon’s Help Guide (well done & helpful)
◼︎ A beginner’s guide to Mastodon, the open source Twitter alternative
◼︎ All of your burning Mastodon questions, answered
◼︎ Back to the future: how Mastodon is restoring the lost art of online conversation
◼︎ Mastodon Features That Twitter Should Steal (but Won’t)
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A Request to my Facebook Friends: If you have a comment I encourage you to enter it below instead of on Facebook. This way everyone can participate in the conversation!
A Request to Everyone: All opinions are welcome. I only ask that we remain civil and respectful of one another.
2 thoughts on “Goodbye, Twitter! Hello, Mastodon!”
Will Mastadon have content monitoring/moderation?
Yes, there is content & conduct moderation on Mastodon but it’s not centralized like with Facebook or Twitter. No single person or group controls Mastodon. Each individual server (or “instance”) in the Mastodon federation is individually moderated and has its own policies and rules which users agree to before joining that server. Each moderator can only control his or her server, but in extreme cases there are provisions for a system-wide response.
I’m on the mstdn.social server, but there are many others. If a user is later uncomfortable with how their server is being moderated, they can move to another server.
These are the rules of conduct in my specific Instance (mstdn.social):
These are Mastodon’s policies and procedures on moderation: