Mastodon vs Twitter

Twitter is many things, but stable it is not, at least as of December 2022. This has left many users looking for alternative social media platforms. One such platform is Mastodon, an open source microblogging site that has caught the attention of many users since its launch in 2016. But is Mastodon an alternative to Twitter?

Let's find out

mastodon twitter

What is Mastodon?

Mastodon is an open source microblogging platform similar to Twitter. It was created by Eugen Rochko in 2016 and has since become one of the most popular decentralized social networks on the internet.

Unlike Twitter, which is owned and controlled by a single company, Mastodon is maintained by a network of independent servers managed by individual users or groups. This means that each server can set its own rules for content moderation, making it easier for users to find communities that match their interests or locations.

Mastodon vs Twitter: Similarities

If you already have a Mastodon account, you will have noticed some similarities between the platform and Twitter. Some of them:

1. Toots and tweets
Mastodon and Twitter use short messages, called “toots” on Mastodon and “tweets” on Twitter. These can include text, images, videos and other media. They can be made public or sent privately to other users. One difference to note is that while tweets can only be up to 280 characters, Mastodon allows users to write longer messages of up to 500 characters.

2. Followers and Following
Mastodon and Twitter allow users to follow other users, which means that the content they post will appear in their followers' feeds. They can also "mute" or block any user they don't want to see on their feed.

3 Hashtags
Both platforms use hashtags to organize content and make it easier for users to find posts related to a particular topic. On Mastodon, you can find all posts on a specific topic in many cases using a hashtag.

4. Timelines
Both Mastodon and Twitter display user posts in a Timeline format, which makes it easy for users to scroll through recent content.

How is Mastodon different from Twitter?

Although Mastodon is similar to Twitter, there are a few key differences that set it apart. Some of these are from features, while others relate to the underlying culture of the platform.

1. Decentralized Network

One of the most notable differences between Mastodon and Twitter is that Mastodon is a decentralized network. It is not owned or controlled by a single company like Twitter. Instead, Mastodon is maintained by a network of independent servers managed by individual users or groups.

2. Content moderation

Another difference between Mastodon and Twitter is how content is moderated. On Twitter, all content is subject to the same moderation rules set by Twitter. Mastodon is based on “instances” – individual servers operated by individual users or groups who decide what kind of content they want to allow on their server.

This helps create smaller, more focused communities than you can find on larger platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

3. Privacy Settings

Mastodon has stronger privacy settings than Twitter. Users can choose whether they want their posts to be public, visible only to followers, or visible only to referred users. This gives users more control over who sees their content and helps keep trolls and spammers at bay.

4. User interface

Before Elon's acquisition of Twitter, Mastodon was only for the tech savvy. Much of the credit for this goes to the platform's UI, which is far less intuitive and user-friendly than Twitter. This is because Mastodon was intended to be an open source alternative to Twitter and not necessarily the "Twitter killer".

5. Advertisements and Promotion

Mastodon doesn't allow ads or any form of promotion, which means users don't have to worry about seeing ads on their timelines.

6. Potential reach of users

Twitter is much bigger than Mastodon, so tweets have the potential to reach a much wider audience. On Mastodon, content can reach a relatively small number of people, even if it is published on the most popular servers. This is due to Mastodon's decentralized structure, which prevents content from reaching users who are on other servers.

7. Audience

Twitter tends to attract more users, while Mastodon generally attracts tech-savvy users looking for an alternative to Twitter. This means that the content on Mastodon can be more technical and more focused on certain topics than what one would find on Twitter.

Is Mastodon an alternative to Twitter?

Given its similarities to Twitter, Mastodon can certainly be seen as a viable alternative for users looking for an open source platform with more control over privacy settings. However, Twitter has more features and a better platform design, which makes it stand out from alternatives.

Twitter's reputation as a bridge between "common mortals" and celebrities, or politicians makes it a very attractive platform for many users. Mastodon may have the features to compete with Twitter, but its audience and dynamics make the two platforms very different.

If you're a techie, Mastodon might be a good Twitter alternative. But it's unlikely to be a good enough Twitter alternative for the general population. Not as it is today at least.

It's worth noting here that Mastodon is still a very new platform, and as it continues to grow and evolve, its capabilities and user base are starting to look more and more like Twitter.

In conclusion, Mastodon qualifies as a viable Twitter alternative, but for now for a very niche audience: tech-savvy users looking for an open source platform with more control over privacy settings and content moderation.

Twitter, on the other hand, remains a popular platform for those who want to reach a much wider audience and engage with celebrities, politicians or influencers. Ultimately, the decision to choose one platform over another will depend on each user's goals and preferences. Who says you can't have accounts on both platforms?

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Written by giorgos

George still wonders what he's doing here ...


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