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What is Mastodon? Users are flocking to the platform amid Twitter chaos

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Posted at 11:42 AM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 11:42:52-05

Twitter users are in a panic after reports suggest the company is in chaos and may not survive. The panic appeared to reach a peak on Thursday as news of mass resignations at Twitter was reported.

Many Twitter users began posting information about how their followers can find them on other platforms. Links were given to Facebook pages, Instagram profiles and TikTok accounts. However, the social media platform Mastodon also appeared to be getting a lot of traction.

The platform has a lot of similarities to Twitter, but there are also some key differences.

Mastodon is a decentralized social network. That means it’s not owned by a single company or billionaire. Rather, it’s made up of a network of servers, each run independently but able to connect so people on different servers can communicate. There are no ads as Mastodon is funded by donations, grants and other means.

Mastodon’s feed is chronological, unlike Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter, which all use algorithms to get people to spend as much time on a site as possible.

It can be a tad daunting to try to sign up to Mastodon. Because each server is run separately, you will need to first pick one you want to join, then go through the steps to create an account and agree with the server’s rules. There are general and interest- and location-based ones, but in the end it won’t really matter. Once you’re in, the feed is reminiscent of Twitter. You can write (up to 500 characters), post photos or videos, and follow accounts as well as see a general public feed.

“We present a vision of social media that cannot be bought and owned by any billionaire, and strive to create a more resilient global platform without profit incentives,” Mastodon’s website says.

Currently, the site has more than 1 million users, nearly half of whom signed up after Elon Musk took over Twitter on Oct. 27, according to founder Eugen Rochko.