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Social network Mastodon attracts worried Twitter users. A fact sheet

Social media platform Mastodon is reported to note a booming interest following uncertainties about Twitter after Elon Musk’s turbulent takeover. The uncertainties include what it means that Musk describes himself as a “free speech absolutist”. Big advertisers have put Twitter ads on hold despite Musk’s statements that there is no change of moderation, that there will be a kind of committee to form moderation rules and that Twitter will not be “Free-for-All Hellscape.

Mastodon, a short fact sheet:

  • Mastodon is operated by German Mastodon gGmbH non-profit
  • Mastodon is free and open software for running social networking. It presents itself as: “Social networking that’s not for sale. Your home feed should be filled with what matters most to you, not what a corporation thinks you should see. Radically different social media, back in the hands of the people.”
  • Mastodon’s founder Eugen Rochko was born in Russia but is based in Germany. Mastodon was launched 2016.
  • Following Musk’s take over of Twitter on October 27, The Guardian reported Mastodon got 70 000 new subscribers. Moston’s website says it has one million active users. 
  • It is a so-called federated network of thousands of social networks across the world. All of them using Mastodon technology. Users choose a server to connect to and get access to the full network. There is a list of servers including main interests by users of that specific server.
  • The network has sponsors, takes donations and also relies on volunteers. There is no advertising.
  • Moderation can vary from server to server as they are run locally but listed servers have agreed to follow  “active moderation against racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia”. 
  • Mastodon has apps for iOS and Android
  • Posts are called toots and can be 500 characters (longer than on Twitter that has a limit of 280). You can share toots and use hashtags.  
  • Messages can be public or private. Public messages are shown on a global feed, known as a timeline, and private messages are only shared on the timelines of the user’s followers. They can include audio, video and pictures.
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