Social networks: Why people who want to avoid Twitter turn to Mastodon

Twitter’s takeover by Elon Musk is prompting some to ditch the bluebird social network to sign up for Mastodon, a decentralized platform. What is this new social network, how to register, what you need to know about its advantages and limitations. Explanations.

After Twitter was bought by Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk for $44 billion, there have been concerns about the future of the social network, and in particular how content posted there will be moderated. be implemented. After claiming that the “blue bird” (Twitter logo) had been posted, he announced that he was in favor of unrestricted freedom of expression and that he would release the accounts of users banned from the platform from “Twitter jail” in the first place. Donald Trump – Musk has fired several top executives at the company, including Twitter’s head of legal, policy and trust Vijay Gadde, who made the final decision to ban the former US president, and “decided to form a content moderation board.” very different views’. The risk of seeing an explosion of hate or conspiracy content is therefore very real.

“In the coming days, you’re going to have to be very careful on this platform … What you retweet, what account you follow and your own perception of what’s going on,” said Kate Starbird, a disinformation researcher at the University of Washington. If network security chief Yoel Roth wanted to reassure the Trust and Security team by explaining that only 15% of the departures had suffered — Musk laid off half of his 7,500 employees — the concern reached the point where some decided. Leaving Twitter. The whole question is to know what alternatives exist to the social network that has become the main space for public debate.

Mastodon is very similar to Twitter

Mastodon is a decentralized alternative, but more complex than Twitter

So far, the closest platform to Twitter is Mastodon, which does not allow Tweets to be published, but… toots (toots in English). This social network, which was created in 2016, currently has more than 655 thousand users, of which more than 230 thousand joined last week. “We’re delivering a social media vision that no billionaire can buy or own. Your ability to communicate online shouldn’t depend on a single commercial company!” On Twitter, Mastodon also mentioned…

At Mastodon, we provide a vision of social media that no billionaire can buy and own. Your ability to communicate online should not be at the whim of a commercial company!

—Mastodon (@joinmastodon) April 14, 2022

Mastodon has the advantage of being a self-hosted, free and decentralized network, independent of a company with its own servers. Mastodon actually runs on different servers (instances) connected to each other: when you want to create an account, you have to choose volunteers, associations, even your managed server (eg,,, etc.). administrations. A list of all servers is available here. Once your server is selected, you’ll need to remember its address because you’ll be connecting to the internet or through the Mastodon apps available for iPhone and Android smartphones.

Apps for Mastodon are available for iOS and Android

Apps for Mastodon are available for iOS and Android

Very different moderation

Then just create your own account with your name or nickname like on Twitter (the account will be in the form @yourname@instance). You can add your profile picture, list your interests, and more. As with Twitter, we can then explore posts, exchange direct messages with other users, favorite Pouets, create lists, and more. A noticeable difference from Twitter: where tweets are limited to 280 characters, it reaches 500. Publications in the social network without ads or algorithms are displayed in chronological order.

As for content moderation, it really depends on the instance you join. Where Twitter has general moderation on Mastodon, each instance moderates according to more or less strict rules. Instance A may decide to prohibit sharing a publication with one or more members of instance B. Blacklists may exist for this purpose.

Therefore, the choice of starting pattern is important. If there is a problem, you can transfer your account to another instance: the procedure is complicated, but possible.

Privacy and security are in question

Among the disadvantages of Mastodon, we can highlight that exchanges are not end-to-end encrypted. Therefore, we must be careful about what we exchange, especially since the administrators of the instances may have access to private messages.

“New platforms inevitably face new risks and anyone migrating to them should ideally exercise caution and do due diligence before disclosing or disseminating information,” reminds Benoit Grunemwald, ESET France Cyber ​​Security Specialist. “Malicious actors are very adept at taking advantage of new users, either by impersonating platform managers to obtain credentials or by impersonating contacts to obtain other information. False information can be spread at a time when authenticated users are potentially more difficult to detect. In addition, major problems Therefore, it is very important to master the reflex of checking any information about users,” continues the expert.

We look forward to the future BlueSky social network

If there’s wind in the Mastodon’s sails, nothing says it’s going to fly. Its philosophy and operation can be confusing. That’s why some are betting heavily on Twitter’s future rival platform, BlueSky, whose development is now led by former Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey.

Bluesky is building a social protocol. In May we released “ADX” (X stands for experiment). Now that the design is starting to solidify, we’re renaming it “Authenticated Transport Protocol” – “AT Protocol”.

— bluesky (@bluesky) October 18, 2022

On November 5, he took to Twitter to express his guilt over the situation. “The people on Twitter, past and present, are strong and resilient. They will always find a way, no matter how difficult times are. I understand that many people are angry with me. I am responsible for the reason that everyone is in this situation: I grew the company too quickly. For this I’m sorry. I appreciate and love everyone who has ever worked at Twitter. I don’t expect it to be reciprocated right now… or ever… o.

On BlueSky’s website, the developers explain, “We’re building the AT Protocol, a new foundation for social networks that gives creators platform independence, developers the freedom to build, and users choice in their experience.”

In any case, the upcoming platform is attracting interest, because in a few days, about 30,000 people have signed up on the waiting list to test it.

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