TechCrunch reports over 500,000 new users flocked to Mastodon, an open-source alternative to Twitter. The recent influx of users to the decentralized social media platform results from Elon Musk’s official Twitter takeover. After months of setbacks and controversy, the eccentric tech billionaire finally acquired the social media platform. Is Mastodon the new Twitter?
Founded in 2016 by German developer Eugene Rochko, Mastodon brings the power (and transparency) of open-source code to social media. What does this mean? Anyone anywhere can use, modify, and install Mastodon on a private server.
The open-source code was the subject of some controversy involving a certain former President, now banned from Twitter. Former President Donal Trump’s Truth Social used Mastodon’s open-source code but neglected to make it public, violating the licensing agreement.
It’s similar to blockchain technology, but not quite the same.
Mastodon is an example of decentralized web3 technology used for social media. However, despite the similarities, it doesn’t use blockchain technology. Instead, Mastodon is part of what’s known as the “fediverse” or federated universe, a collection of open-source social media platforms. These platforms use the same basic software called ActivityPub, a web3 protocol that allows decentralized social media hosting.
What can you do on Mastodon?
Unlike Twitter, Mastodon has various “instances” or servers. Similar to subreddits on Reddit, instances are individual communities with their own rules. Instances are where decentralization comes into play, as each runs its version of Mastodon’s source code. Additionally, instances act similarly to nodes on a blockchain, though there’s no monetary reward for hosting an instance.
Most of Mastodon’s features are similar to Twitter, which is why hundreds of thousands of Musk-weary users signed up. However, users on the platform post “toots” instead of tweets and boost those toots instead of retweeting.
Although, naturally, Mastodon lacks the resources of Twitter, so the experience might not be as seamless. It’s also a bit clunkier and less user-friendly, as it requires more setup.