What is Mastodon?

What is the Mastodon Social Media Network?

The Mastodon social media platform is among the most popular Twitter replacements in 2022. Below we’ll discuss why, the benefits of the application, and its impact on the Fediverse.

What is the Mastodon Social Media Network

Mastodon is a self-hosted microblogging platform with the primary goal of keeping the user in control of their data. That includes a user experience which is not manipulated by marketing-driven algorithms. 

The web application is developed with multiple programming languages including Ruby, Node.js, and the PostgreSQL database management system. As of 2021 the application must be installed on the Ubuntu Linux operating system (OS).

Example Mastodon profile
Example profile

Fediverse Microblogging Platform

Mastodon is a Fediverse application, meaning your private installation (or instance) can communicate with users on other private Mastodon servers across the globe. Federated Mastodon instances also integrate with PeerTube video sharing instances and other federated apps. This is made possible with the ActivityPub social networking protocol but isn’t mandatory. There’s nothing keeping you from using a private Mastodon server for internal communications in lieu of something like Rocket.Chat or Mattermost.

Easy to Use Features

Mastodon is easy to learn as its workflow closely resembles Twitter.

The timeline shows posts for everyone you’re following.

Mastodon posts, or “toots,” cannot exceed 500 characters by default. Twitter’s limit is 280.

Posts can be “boosted” (similar to retweets), favourited (liked/starred), privately bookmarked, and replied to for a threaded conversation.

Posts can include media, polls, emojis, and a content warning which blurs controversial or explicit visuals. Better safe than sorry, right?

Multiple posts can be pinned to the top of a Mastodon profile.

You can create lists to better track posts from certain types of influencers.

And you can direct message (DM) users.

Empty Mastodon dashboard
Basic dashboard

Social media managers for a company or activist movement may be familiar with Tweetdeck, a dashboard which shows multiple configurable columns at once. Mastodon has a similar feature simply titled “advanced web interface.”

Mastodon advanced web interface
Advanced web interface similar to Tweetdeck

What Mastodon is Not

The Mastodon social media network has some major disadvantages if you’re looking for a Twitter replacement rather than another platform to expand your reach.

Not a Replacement in Regards to Activity

Mastodon’s Fediverse space is gradually increasing, but it’s nowhere near the amount of activity seen on Twitterverse. Twitter has been around for fifteen years. Mastodon is five years old and most internet users today still have no clue it exists.

The world shifted from MySpace (yes it still exists) to Facebook and Twitter as the top influencers did, and later major businesses. There are very few major corporations with a Mastodon account and actively maintaining it. 

And it’s likely you’ll find that at least one of your interests has never been discussed throughout the Fediverse. That might seem weird, but remember that the majority of people bouncing from Twitter are doing so for a specific reason. People who share your uncommon hobbies might have overlooked the Mastodon social network and gone elsewhere.

Not the Only Twitter Alternative

Mastodon isn’t for everyone. Just like Mastodon has a slew of instances for niche interests, there are other platforms within and separate from the network of federated apps.

Within the Fediverse there’s Pleroma, a less popular Mastodon alternative with similar features but less demand on system resources.

Some have opted for Gab or GETTR for political causes while others followed the masses into Discord and Slack groups for a better sense of privacy or community support. There are at least a few dozen other platforms with the same goals.

Ready to make the switch to the Mastodon social media network?

  1. Join an instance or install Mastodon on an Ubuntu cloud server.
  2. Learn how to expand your Mastodon Fediverse network.
  3. Integrate Mastodon with WordPress or other web applications you manage.

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