July 13, 2024

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Mastodon: The Alternative To Walled-Garden Social Media

As Twitter and Facebook have increased their monitoring, monetization and censorship, the federated social media platform, Mastodon, has been steadily gaining popularity

Launched in 2016, Mastodon is a decentralized platform that allows users to interact with each other through microblogging, similar to Twitter and Facebook. However, unlike Twitter and Facebook, Mastodon isn’t owned by a single company, but is instead operated by a network of independently operated servers, called instances.

The concept behind Mastodon is to provide users with more control over their social media experience. Instead of having a single centralized platform that’s controlled by a big, profit-driven corporation, Mastodon allows users to choose which instance they want to join. Each instance has its own interests, rules and policies, which can be customized to suit the needs of its users.

Credit: Kerde Severin via Pexels

One of Mastodon’s many benefits is that it is designed to be more user-friendly. Owing largely to its ad-free model, the platform has a simple, clean interface that’s easier to navigate. It also allows users to customize their experience by creating custom timelines based on hashtags, users, or keywords. This means that users can filter out content that they don’t want to see and focus on the content that interests them.

Finally, some privacy

Another key feature of Mastodon is that it is built on open-source software, which means developers can access the code and modify it to suit their needs. It also means that Mastodon is more transparent than other social media platforms, as users can see exactly how the platform works and what data is being collected.

Mastodon has gained popularity as people have become increasingly concerned about privacy and data security. Mastodon’s decentralized nature means that there’s no single point of failure, which makes it less vulnerable to hacking and data breaches. Additionally, Mastodon doesn’t collect personalized data about its users like the other social media platforms do. This means users don’t have to worry about their personal information being sold to advertisers or used for other purposes without their consent.

Baby steps

But in spite of its obvious advantages, Mastodon has so far seen a relative lack of mainstream adoption. While the platform has a dedicated user base of 2.2 million dedicated users, it’s yet to reach the same level of market saturation as other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. This can make it difficult for new users to find friends and family to follow and interact with, which can be a barrier to engagement.

But despite these challenges, Mastodon continues to grow and evolve. The platform’s developers are constantly working to improve the user experience and add new features. And, the platform has a vibrant community of engaged users who are passionate about the platform and committed to its success.

Here’s a comparative list of features:

FeaturesMastodonTwitterFacebook
DecentralizationYes, federated network of independent serversNo, centralized platform owned by TwitterNo, centralized platform owned by Facebook
CustomizationYes, users can join different instances with their own rules and policiesLimited, users can create custom timelinesLimited, users can create groups and pages with specific settings
PrivacyStrong focus on user privacy, does not collect personalized data, like other platformsModerate, users have some control over privacy settingsUsers have very limited control over privacy settings
AdsNo ads on MastodonYes, promoted tweets and sponsored contentYes, a tsunami of targeted ads based on user data and behavior
Algorithmic FeedNo, chronological feed by defaultYes, algorithmic feed with some control over settingsYes, algorithmic feed with very limited control over settings
Character CountVariable, depends on instance settingsLimited, 280 characters per tweetVariable, depends on post type and settings
NetworkingLimited, instances can have smaller user basesStrong, large and varied user baseStrong, massive user base
VerificationLimited, no official verification systemYes, blue checkmark for verified accounts for a feeYes, blue checkmark for verified accounts for a fee
Business PresenceLimited, fewer business tools availableModerate, business accounts and advertisingStrong, wide range of business marketing tools available
Community StandardsVariable, depend on instance rules and policiesModerate, enforced community guidelinesStrong, arbitrarily enforced community standards and policies
Picture of By J.R. Grissom

By J.R. Grissom

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