We explain how to use the Mastodon social network, one of the alternatives to Twitter bought by Elon Musk

Mastodon, you know? Since the announcement of the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, many users have migrated to this social network. Worried about possible changes in the moderation rules, outraged by the sudden dismissal of thousands of employees, or rejecting the idea of ​​a paid subscription to the network, thousands of Internet users are looking for a new nest. As a result, on November 3, Mastodon announced (the Twitter) having gained 230,000 users in one week, bringing the number of people registered on the social network to 655,000. A drop of water compared to the 238 million daily Twitter users called “active”, recorded at the end of June.

Tempted to run away from the blue bird to join the purple mammoth? Franceinfo explains what Mastodon is and how to use it.

What exactly is Mastodon?

Mastodon is a free, open source, decentralized microblogging social network. It was created in October 2016 by Eugen Rochko, a developer from Germany. Similar to Twitter and Tumblr, it allows you to share messages, images and videos, up to a limit of 500 characters. The messages, unlike the US network, can be edited and are named after “squeaks”, “Dream” in English.

The particularity of Mastodon is its decentralized character. As explained in the help section of the social network, each new user chooses a server when registering. The latter is managed by an independent organization or person. User information is stored on this server. In total, Mastodon has just over 3,300 servers around the world. But beware, if there are many servers, each user has access to the entire social network.

This choice allows Mastodon “to spread your load across different servers”explains the american magazine Wired*Which means that “Mastodon doesn’t need the infrastructure, engineering or significant financial backing that a network like Twitter does”. The organization also allows Mastodon to go without advertising, being financed solely by donations and sponsors.

How can I create an account?

The procedure is a bit more complex than on Twitter. The first thing to do is choose a server. A list is available on the Mastodon website and allows you to orient yourself according to centers of interest or geographical criteria. The choice of the server is not decisive, since once registered, you will have access to the entire social network. All you have to do is choose a username and password. This address, in the format “@xx.xx@mastodon.xx” will then serve as his pseudonym, as the “@xxx” On twitter.

A screenshot of a Mastodon server login page.  (FABIEN JANNIC-CHERBONNEL / FRANCEINFO / MASTODON)

How to use Mastodon?

Mastodon is a lot like Twitter, except “toots” replaces “tweets”. It is possible to post and edit 500-character messages, send direct messages to users, search and follow current trends. Unlike Twitter, it is not possible to like a publication, but to give it a star, to mark it as a favorite. This action is not visible to other subscribers.

Screenshot of Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko's account on Mastodon, Nov. 7, 2022. (FABIEN JANNIC-CHERBONNEL/FRANCEINFO/MASTODON)

As a user, you will have access to two different news feeds, accessible on the right of the screen: a local feed, which summarizes the messages published on your server, and another, all the messages published on Mastodon’s servers. .

How do I find the accounts I followed on Twitter?

This is the main obstacle to the adoption of Mastodon. The first thing to understand is that you will not find all your contacts on the decentralized social network, even if the list of users has grown in recent days. However, there are several tools available to find your contacts. The Fedifinfer* web application allows you to scan your contacts and find those who are also on Mastodon. To go faster, it is even possible to export a CVS file of your contacts, to import it into Mastodon. The Twitodon service* allows you to do the same.

You can also search directly on Mastodon, depending on your interests. media, like media part Where The world have already invested in the social network. Some institutions, such as the European Commission, also have a page.

Is Mastodon safe?

It is at this point where the shoe squeezes. The confidentiality of the exchanges is not fully guaranteed with private messages, depending on numerama. Mathis Hammel, an IT security specialist, recalls in Twitter that “The owner of the server can access your private messages” and recommends avoiding using a managed server “by a relative or a colleague”.

The social network’s moderation policy also raises questions. Each instance, the entity that manages a server, monitors its own moderation policy. So the rules may differ from server to server, although as the moderator’s blog explains, “Mastodon ensures that its servers are constantly committed to moderation against racism, sexism and transphobia”. Just like on Twitter, there is also fake news and fake accounts on Mastodon.

*Links followed by an asterisk are in English.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *