Leaving Twitter to go to Mastodon? Why not !

What is a mastodon?

Mastodon is a microblogging social network founded in October 2016 by the German Eugen Rochko. It allows you to share “toots” messages, pictures and videos like Twitter. Like Twitter, it works on a computer in a web browser or on a smartphone through apps.

Currently, Mastodon has more than 4.5 million users worldwide (of which more than 1.5 million were active in the last month). 444 million toots have already been published. If Mastodon today remains quite small compared to the American giant (Twitter has 12 million users in France alone), it nevertheless has many advantages that we present to you here.

First of all, Mastodon is free, open source software licensed under the AGPLv3. This means that the software is not only free, but its source code can be read, used and modified by anyone. Nothing is hidden there. Everything is transparent. In short, Mastodon is a common commodity.

  • A decentralized organization

Moreover, unlike Twitter, where all users go through the same central infrastructure (and therefore through potentially arbitrary central power), Mastodon relies on a decentralized organization.

To date, more than 5,700 different Mastodon specimens have been found worldwide, including 330 in France. Each server has its own moderation policy: common language, topics covered, ethics, maximum characters per message, custom emojis, etc.

But these examples of Mastodon are not separate from each other. They don’t work in silos. All servers can communicate with each other as a federated network (users of one server can talk to users of another server). Therefore, we must imagine the Mastodon as a gigantic graph woven on a planetary scale.

In summary, although the number of users is still modest, Mastodon is a real alternative to Twitter. If we collectively seize it, Mastodon can become a free and decentralized global agora, a commons available to humanity.

This struggle for collective adoption of tools in the digital space is crucial. And what if the communist struggle has outstripped our collective ability to free ourselves from the tools imposed by capitalism?


If you look for me on Mastodon, you’ll find me at piaille.fr to talk about politics and mapstodon.space to discuss geographic information science. Look forward to seeing you there soon.

codes and sources

Nicholas Lambert He is a CNRS research engineer in geographic information sciences at RIATE: https://riate.cnrs.fr. He is a communist activist and a member of the Migreurop network. He also runs a blog called “neocartographic notebook” and is very active on social networks under the pseudonym “cartographer encartĂ©” @nico_lambert.

Each month, he presents one or more cards accompanied by commentary to help us understand and perceive information, a social issue or a debate in a different way. Nicolas Lambert participated in the production of several works Atlas of Europe in the world (2008), Atlas of Migrants in Europe (2009, 2012, 2017), Cartography textbook (2016, published in English in 2020) and crazy maps (2019). He teaches cartography at the University of Paris.

Find all the interactive maps he’s created here Humanity.

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