“Screw Twitter, I’m going to mastodon” is becoming increasingly popular. But what is Mastodon, how do you sign up for an account, and should you actually get one?
This exodus came on the heels of Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter, which was turbulent, to say the least. Since October 27, this rocky road has included charging a verification fee, arguing with Stephen King over the price, laying off 3,700 employees, trying to rehire some of the said workforce who were mistakenly laid off, and most recently, adding a minor component. A form of Twitter verification – because asking people to pay for a blue tick is not enough for the important task of verifying official accounts.
And since October 27, Mastodon usage has risen to over 1 million active users and Google searches for Mastodon are up 597%. Apparently some people are looking for an alternative in anticipation of what they think will be Twitter’s internal meltdown.
So let’s answer three questions now: What is a mastodon? How to create a Mastodon account? More importantly, is Mastodon the real Twitter alternative that you should consider joining?
What is mastodon?
Mastodon is an open source decentralized social network that looks like equal parts Twitter and Discord. Users can create their own community around a specific topic by creating a server (such as Discord), but users on these specific servers can also interact with the broader Mastodon community in a real-time social feed (such as Twitter).
This network has been around for nearly six years in relative obscurity when you factor in giants like Facebook and Twitter, but it has been improving at a rapid rate to bring more vision to unified computing.
This independent nature goes to the core of Mastodon as well, as it is a nonprofit organization that relies on corporate sponsorship and Patreon donations, rather than sophisticated advertising platforms and algorithms that monitor your posts and deliver targeted ads.
How to create a Mastodon account
In a way, setting up a Mastodon account is simple. But in another way, it’s a bit complicated. This goes back to the fully decentralized nature of the social network.
1. Head over to Mastodon’s website and click Make an account.
2. From here, you can use the various drop down menus at the top to choose language And the Recording speed. The latter is important because some servers accept instant subscriptions, while others require manual review.
3. Select the correct file region and Title that interest you to narrow down the results and choose the result you want to join.
4. Once you choose a server, a new tab will open for you to fill in your details, including username, email address, password and (for those who need manual review) a short sentence about why you want to join that particular server.
5. Then (and once you are accepted into a manual review server), you will receive a verification email to confirm your account.
Should you join Mastodon?
Before taking up my job as a writer at Laptop Mag, I spent a decade in social media marketing. I’ve seen every social network full of scams come and go, but this situation looks a little different.
Twitter has always been a problematic platform and the full suite of Elon acquisition highlights these issues. But it’s still seen through a unique lens as a major platform for breaking news and real substantive discussion, rather than as a place for tweaked profiles like Instagram, or a place to complain about your aunt’s post like Facebook.
I salute Mastodon’s approach to democratizing access and removing the need for corporate interests. But if it is to survive, it must be much easier to access and use quickly. This will help to continue collecting users at this constant exponential rate and provide the opportunity to have regular users beyond the geeks, like you and me.