Mastodon vs. Twitter: Is Mastodon a real alternative to Twitter?

Twitter is many things, but stability is not one of them, at least as of December 2022. Therefore, many users are looking for alternative social media platforms. One such platform is Mastodon, an open-source microblogging site that has garnered a lot of attention since its launch in 2016. But is Mastodon a real alternative to Twitter? We will find out.

What is a mastodon?

Mastodon is an open source microblogging platform similar to Twitter. It was founded 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 operated by a single company, Mastodon is operated by a network of independent servers controlled by individual users or groups. This means that each server can set its own content moderation rules, making it easier for users to find communities that match their interests or locations.

Mastodon vs. Twitter: Similarities

The Mastodon logo appears on a blurred blue background

If you already have an account on Mastodon, you will notice some similarities between this site and Twitter. Here are a few:

1. Toots and Tweets

Both Mastodon and Twitter are built around short messages, called “toots” in Mastodon and “tweets” in Twitter. These messages may include text, images, videos, and other media. They can be made public or sent privately to other users. One difference to note: while tweets can only contain 140 characters, Mastodon allows users to write longer messages of up to 500 characters.

2. Followers and Tracking

Mastodon and Twitter also allow users to follow other users, which means content they post appears in their followers’ feeds. They can also mute or block any user they don’t want to appear on their feed.

3. Hashtags

Both platforms also use hashtags to organize content and make it easier for users to find posts related to a specific topic. In Mastodon, you can find all the posts on a certain topic in several instances using a hashtag.

4. Timelines

Mastodon and Twitter both display user posts in a timeline format, allowing users to easily scroll through the latest 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 them are feature-based, while others are tied 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 and operated by a single company like Twitter. Instead, Mastodon is powered 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 managed. All content on Twitter is subject to the same moderation rules set by Twitter. Mastodon relies on “Templates” – individual servers managed by users or groups who decide what type of content they want to allow on their servers.

This allows for smaller, more targeted communities than those found on large platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

3. Privacy Settings

Mastodon has more robust privacy settings than Twitter. Users can choose to make their posts public, visible only to their followers, or only to the specified users. This gives them more control over who sees their content and keeps trolls and spammers at bay.

4. User interface

Before Elon took over Twitter, Mastodon was reserved for techies. This is mainly due to the platform’s user interface, which is less intuitive and user-friendly than Twitter. The reason for this is not far-fetched: Mastodon was intended to be an open-source alternative to Twitter, and was not necessarily a “Twitter killer”.

5. Advertisements and Promotion

Mastodon doesn’t allow ads or any form of promotion, meaning users won’t have to worry about seeing sponsored content in their feed.

6. Potential capabilities of users

Twitter is much bigger than Mastodon, so tweets have the potential to reach a wider audience. In Mastodon, even if the content is hosted on the most popular servers, it can reach relatively few people. This is due to Mastodon’s decentralized structure, which prevents content from reaching users on other servers.

7. Hearing

Twitter tends to attract more mainstream users, while Mastodon is generally populated by tech-savvy users looking for an alternative to Twitter. This means that Mastodon’s content can be more technical and topic-oriented than on Twitter.

Is Mastodon a real alternative to Twitter?

Given its similarities to Twitter, Mastodon can certainly be considered a viable alternative for users looking for an open source platform with more control over privacy settings and content moderation. However, Twitter goes beyond functionality and design – it’s the platform’s culture that sets it apart from its alternatives.

Twitter’s reputation as a bridge between everyday people and celebrities, politicians and influencers makes it an attractive platform for many users. Mastodon may have features that rival Twitter, but its audience and potential reach make the two platforms very different.

If you’re tech-savvy, Mastodon can be a great alternative to Twitter. But it is unlikely to be a good enough alternative to Twitter for the general public. At least not in the current state.

It should be noted here that Mastodon is still a very young platform – as it grows and develops, its functionality and user base will become more and more similar to Twitter. Until then, it will remain an interesting (but not good enough) open source alternative.

Mastodon: Alternative to Twitter?

In conclusion, Mastodon can be considered a viable alternative to Twitter, but still for a very limited audience: advanced users looking for an open source platform with better control over privacy settings and content moderation.

And Twitter remains the go-to platform for those looking to reach a wider audience and connect with celebrities and influencers. Ultimately, the decision to choose one platform over another will depend on each user’s goals and preferences. And who says you can’t have an account on both?

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