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What is Mastodon, Twitter’s rival social network

Mastodon is an open source social network, which was launched in 2016 and added 30,000 new users in just one day after the news of the twitter buyaccording to its creator, Eugen Rochko.

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The platform was conceived back then with the idea of ​​offering a freer and more decentralized alternative after the rumor emerged that Twitter could be sold.

Well, that did not happen in 2016 but it did in 2022 and Rochko did not miss the opportunity to compare this network with the site that is now in the hands of Elon Musk.

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We have been constantly working towards the ultimate goal of providing a viable alternative to Twitter since 2016 and we have demonstrated the scalability and resiliency of the platform through organic growth over the years,” he said in a recent post.

As in Twitter, in Mastodon, whose logo is a mammoth, you can post messages, photos, videos and follow other users. The character limit per post is 500 and the content of the feed is displayed in chronological order.

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But the big difference with the microblogging platform and other social networks is that It is a decentralized system. That means that it is not controlled by a single company or server, but here anyone can create and manage their own server that constitute species of subnets.

The “subnets” that can be created within Mastodon are called instances and each of them can have their own rules. The slogans, the topics that are discussed and forms of moderation are defined by the community that created them and not by a single company. Instances can be connected to each other: in such a way that members of one can follow members of others.

At the same time, Mastodon has tools to combat different forms of abuse that are made available to the instances, for them to use according to the rules they have established for their community.

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“Unlike traditional social networks, Mastodon cannot be broken, sold or totally blocked by governments”, is mentioned in the presentation video posted on YouTube. There are currently more than 2,400 servers and it has more than 4.4 million users worldwide.

Being from free and open source, anyone can create their own instance or join those that are already created. It does not have advertising and, as its creator promises, end-to-end encryption will soon be implemented in messages.

How to join Mastodon

The first step is choosing which instance or community to join, just like on Discord. To see the available options, go to joinmastodon.org. This can also be done from the apps available for iOS and Android. It is possible to choose the community based on the topic of interest, language, or number of users.

The first server that was created is called Mastodon Social and it is found here. There you can see, for example, the rules of that community that, among other things, prohibit expressions of racism, sexism, transphobia and xenophobia; as well as incitement to violence or harassment, among other things. As can be seen, the fact that it is an open community does not imply that there are no rules, but rather that the rules are set by each community.

Once the instance to join has been chosen, you have to register as on any platform, including username, email and a password. You will receive a confirmation email by mail and then you can enter the site.

In the case of the web version, you will see three columns: one where the posts can be published, another to see publications and the third where there is a menu with different options to track content, notifications, etc.

When making the publications, users can also be mentioned by grabbing them and using hashtags. In fact, there is an option called “Explore” (in the right column) that allows you to track thematic content through hashtags.

It is possible to add warnings to posts, such as “spoiler alert” if something about a movie or series is going to be mentioned; as well as choose if you want the content to be public or only for some followers.

It is important to note that Mastodon has three timelines. On the one hand there is the main timeline, which shows the messages of all the users that are being followed. Then there is the local timeline, which shows the messages of the members of the instance to which one belongs. Finally, there are the federated stories, where the contents of other instances can be read.

In the event that the user does not find a community that interests him or for whatever reason he prefers to create his own server, he can do so using the source code found on Github. Documentation and support for this type of development can also be found from the main Joinmastodon page, mentioned previously.

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