Mastodon (Toot! Toot!)
So, I’m on Mastodon. Well, I’ve been on Mastodon for a while now, but thought I’d talk about it briefly here.
On most modern social networks, you are the product. Your habits, friends, and interests are all consolidated, packaged, and sold to anyone willing to pay a few bucks to rent your attention (whether you like it or not). If not you directly, then your habits, likes, dislikes, age, gender, sexual orientation, and the same information for all of the people you may know (including ones you may never had connected on that network).
It’s ridiculous what information you’re giving away for advertisers and marketers to exploit.
Born of frustration with Twitter and some functionality changes in their platform, Mastodon was created.
It’s a Free Software (AGPL), federated, micro-blogging service that is very similar in functionality to Twitter, but very different in it’s philosophical (and feature) approach.
Federated means that Mastodon is actually made up of many different servers (instances) all talking to each other to share what’s happening on their instance with the rest of the federation. People join these servers and are then able to interact with everyone on all of the other servers as well. You don’t have to be on the same server as someone else to follow and interact with someone.
There are no ads, no central server or authority (outside of the admins running your instance), and for a change you are not the product. The act of writing posts is referred to as a Toot, which is unfortunate in my opinion (not really any less odd than a Tweet I suppose).
Some neat features:
- 500 character limit (280 on Twitter)
- Each toot has it’s own privacy setting
- You can mark images as NSFW to hide them by default
- You can generally mark a toot as hidden by default
- Direct messages to users
- Did I mention that you’re not the product?
Mastodon has been seeing some explosive growth earlier this year as Twitter rolled out changes and algorithms that frustrated many users.
Is it going to last? I have no idea. If it gets a nice large number of new users that are vocal enough to the general public it may start seeing a nice influx of new users eager to escape the banality of Twitter and the opaque algorithms and ad-selling business going on behind the scenes.
In the meantime, there’s all kinds of interesting folks already there from the Free Software world. I’m normally mingling with designers and artists, so if you decide to join up, I’m on the flagship instance: https://mastodon.social/about.
No matter which instance you join up on, you should be able to find me at @firstname.lastname@example.org.