Ditching Twitter to Join Mastodon? Here’s What You Need to Know

The latest social media hub operates in a decentralised ecosystem, but does it offer anything different?

Published08 Nov 2019, 12:16 PM IST
Tech News
4 min read

Twitter users are flocking towards a relatively unknown open-source platform called Mastodon. This story explains what it is about, and why it’s better than Twitter.

But we’re here to explain the actual process of signing up, accessing the platform and explaining its privacy features, how it operates and allows the user to have better control of their social-media existence. Also, just in case you’re planning to quit Twitter, here’s how you back up the content from all these years.

The timelines on Mastodon are created in local and federated servers. You can cross-post content within the ecosystem, using the ID associated with the respective Mastodon users.

How to Take Twitter Data Backup?

 Ditching Twitter to Join Mastodon? Here’s What You Need to Know
(Photo: Twitter screen grab)

Before you shift bases to Mastodon, it’s important to backup data from Twitter. And here’s how you do it.

  1. Click on ‘More’ and select ‘Privacy and Settings’
  2. Over there you will find an ‘Account’ tab, click on ‘Your Twitter Data’
  3. Right at the bottom you will see ‘ Download your Twitter Data’
  4. Login with your password, which allows you to download a ZIP file of Twitter or Periscope data for your account
  5. The content will be sent to your registered email ID
 Ditching Twitter to Join Mastodon? Here’s What You Need to Know
(Photo: Twitter screen grab)

Signing Up with Mastodon on Web or Mobile

To get an account on Mastodon, head over to its website (mastodon.social) and follow the steps after you click on ‘Sign Up’.

 Ditching Twitter to Join Mastodon? Here’s What You Need to Know
(Photo: Mastodon feed screen grab)

Apps for Mastodon

If you’re looking for apps that let you access your Mastodon account on Android, iOS and even desktop, here is a list given on the company website. No, it does not have its own app, as it’s a server.

 Ditching Twitter to Join Mastodon? Here’s What You Need to Know
(Photo: Mastodon website screen grab)

As you can see here, Mastodon on Android works via apps like Tusky, Subway Tool and there’s a paid app called Fedilab. For iPhone, you have Toot!, Mast and Amaroq.

You’ll notice that the interface on Mastodon is a clean and less clunky version of Twitter, with claims to have better privacy and moderation rules in place. The founder of Mastodon is a German coder Eugen Rochko who hosted the platform in late 2016.

Mastodon doesn’t operate individually, in fact, separate servers are set up to create different ‘instances’ which cater to a generic audience or a topic of interest. It’s a decentralised open-source platform, which nobody owns and even your data is solely yours.

It’s Open Source But Are You Safe?

Having so many servers operating ensures law enforcement agencies will have a hard time tracking down perpetrators on the platform. But that might not be a good thing all the time.

Thankfully, Eugen, speaking to The Verge in this interview, mentioned that users in particular instances get blocked but they have better transparency to make sure the culprits are punished.

However, the story also refers to a problem which brewed after a far-right focused social media website called Gab migrated to Mastodon in 2017, and moderation challenges came to the fore.

“You have to understand it’s not actually possible to do anything platform-wide because it’s decentralised.”
Eugen Rochko, founder, Mastodon to The Verge

This brings us back to the question of how Mastodon looks at moderating content. To keep this transparent, Mastodon has listed out the blocked domains on this Mastodon GitHub profile, which includes severity levels at ‘Media Block’ ‘Sandbox’ and ‘Suspension’.

Snapshot
  • Media Block - Photos and videos not stored therefore not displayed
  • Sandbox - Accounts can be found, followed and interacted with but ‘toots’ are not public to those not following the author.
  • Suspension - No content is stored, displayed and can’t contact with the server

With over 2.2 million users already on board, Eugen claims this week itself, more than 12,000 users have joined the Mastodon wagon.

 Ditching Twitter to Join Mastodon? Here’s What You Need to Know
(Photo: Google Trends screen grab)

Users in India have all of a sudden started searching for ‘Mastodon’ and the last spike has taken place in the past 24 hours. Is this a trend which will blow up into something big or eventually the bubble will burst like it did with ‘Sarahah’.

We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.

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