Can You Leave Twitter and Still Get Twitter? Try Mastodon.

“The bird” may have “been freed,” only some Twitter users are looking to fly the coop. Even before
Elon Musk took over the social media company, many of Twitter’s “most active users” were disengaging from the site, according to a Reuters report from October. 25.

SinceMusk’s official buy
of the site closed on Oct. 28 for $44 billion, the Twitter exodus has grown. Bot Sentry, an system that tracks Twitter business relationship beliefs, estimates that almost 900,000 Twitter accounts were deactivated between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1, per the MIT Engineering Review.

Some of those walking away from Twitter are switching to Mastodon, a decentralized social network congenital on open-source software. Mastodon’south “federated network” has seen a notable uptick — on Nov. half-dozen, Eugen Rochko, Mastodon’south creator, said the service has gained 489,003 new users since October. 27 and at present has over a meg active users. That’south nevertheless simply a fraction of Twitter’s 238 million.

Read on to see how Mastodon works, how to sign up, and how it compares to Twitter. For more, see
how to delete your Twitter account, and get the latest on
Twitter’s verification bluecoat plans.

What is Mastodon and how is information technology different from Twitter?

Mastodon is a gratis social media service that functions much similar Twitter. You tin post “toots” (instead of tweets) , follow other people and organizations, and favorite (similar) and boost (retweet) posts from other people.

Mastodon was created and originally released in Oct. 2016 by Eugen Rochko, the CEO and lone employee of the nonprofit organisation Mastodon gGmbH.

In an interview with Fourth dimension Magazine, Rochko said he began developing Mastodon when he realized that “being able to express myself online to my friends through short letters was actually very important to me, of import also to the earth, and that mayhap it should not be in the hands of a single corporation that tin can simply do whatever it wants with information technology.”

Instead of ane town square for everyone, however, Mastodon is equanimous of thousands of social networks, all running on different servers, or “instances,” that can communicate with each other through a system called the Fediverse. The Fediverse too contains other social networks like PeerTube for videos, Funkwhale for music, PixelFed for photos and NextCloud for files.

How practise I join Mastodon?

The hardest part of Mastodon is getting started. Since there’s no one common Mastodon surface area for anybody — as with Twitter — y’all’ll need to register on a specific Mastodon server.

Servers can be based on a geographic location, subject interest, professional person groundwork or literally anything an ambassador tin can recall of — for example, the folks at are
immune to post the letter “E,” while the literary buffs at are
from ever using the letter “Due east” (in honor of OuLiPo writer Georges Perec’s lipogram “La Disparition.”)

Ii of the biggest Mastodon servers, aka instances, are — the official server of the Mastodon project — and, though both have temporarily paused registrations. Another big general server that I recently joined is Other popular Mastodon instances include for journalists and for open-source software.

Don’t worry too much well-nigh which server yous choice — you lot tin join as many as you desire and exit or switch servers at whatever time. And yous can follow people across servers, so picking 1 doesn’t go on yous from communicating with those on other instances.

Ane good place to detect a server to bring together is the official Mastodon website at The site currently lists 106 servers that have committed to the Mastodon Server Covenant, an agreement to enforce moderation, make backups of the site and give at least three months warning earlier ever shutting downwards an instance.

Each server’s “about” page will tell a fiddling flake near the Mastodon case and list the server’s rules. If you don’t discover a server that you similar on, you can try other Mastodon directories, such every bit, which offers a wizard for picking a server besides as a sortable listing of 3,910 instances.

Joining a Mastodon server only requires a few personal details.

Screenshot by Peter Butler/CNET

Most Mastodon servers with open up registration volition only enquire for your email address and a password to go started. One time you respond to a verification email, you’re gear up to start using Mastodon. Other, more private Mastodon servers may inquire you to make a request to bring together and and so wait for an invitation.

How do I use Mastodon?

Like Twitter, Mastodon lets you lot postal service brusk messages to the earth or to select people, but instead of tweets, Mastodon posts are called toots. And many of Mastodon’s other features are a lot like Twitter’s, besides, with slight differences. Each mail is limited to 500 characters (instead of 280), and yous can include links, images (JPG, GIF or PNG, up to 8MB), audio files (MP3, OGG, WAV, FLAC, OPUS, AAC, M4A and 3GP up to 40MB) and videos (MP4, M4V, MOV, WebM upwardly to 40MB).

A screenshot of the Mastodon posting interface with options for visibility displayed

Mastodon offers four levels of visibility for all of your toots.

Screenshot by Peter Butler/CNET

Your posts on Mastodon can exist set up to be public, only for your followers or completely unlisted from all timelines. You lot can create polls for your followers and use all your favorite usual emojis, plus custom emojis created for specific servers.

Any post can be marked with an explanatory “content alert” that requires a click before viewing, and Mastodon users take advantage of the feature oft.

You tin can even edit posts on Mastodon. Each version of your toot remains available for review, and people who reblog your post are notified afterward it’s edited.

Just like Twitter, Mastodon uses hashtags that starting time with the “#” symbol, such as #Gaming, #Anthropology or #Veganism. Since there’due south no algorithm to advise your posts to nonfollowers, using hashtags to categorize your posts for people who might be interested is even more important than on Twitter.

Y’all can follow any account on Mastodon, whether or not it’s on your own server instance, and the business relationship’southward posts will be added to your Home feed in chronological gild. Know that for some accounts, you need to request permission to follow them.

Gratis web apps like Debirdify, Fedifinder and Twitodon tin can aid you find accounts you followed on Twitter that have migrated to Mastodon.

If you don’t want a detail account following yous, yous tin can block them only like on Twitter, or you tin can choose to block an entire server.

Mastodon lets you “favorite” posts, only the favorites count doesn’t appear on timelines — if yous want to promote someone else’southward posts, you’ll need to “boost” or reblog them. Unlike Twitter, there are no “quote toots” on Mastodon, a deliberate choice to discourage “dunking” on other people’s posts. A dissever “bookmark” feature lets you save toots on Mastodon without notifying the account that posted information technology.

Mastodon does have a feature chosen Straight Letters, merely the name is a little misleading. Rather than providing person-to-person messages, Mastodon’s feature sets the visibility of a post to only the people mentioned in it. In other words, they’re toots that only certain people can come across, rather than bodily straight messages.

How do the Mastodon timelines work?

Whereas Twitter just has 1 timeline (sorted chronologically or by “top stories”), Mastodon has iii: your Home timeline shows all the posts and reblogs from everyone y’all follow, your Local timeline shows everything from your ain server example, and your Federated timeline shows all posts from all Mastodon servers on which you lot follow someone.

Using a web browser, y’all tin set Mastodon to await like Twitter, showing ane feed at a fourth dimension, or y’all can view multiple feeds and notifications simultaneously (much like Tweetdeck) by selecting “Avant-garde view” from your Preferences.

A screenshot of Mastodon's advanced view interface

Mastodon’s advanced view lets yous view notifications and multiple timelines simultaneously.

Screenshot by Peter Butler/CNET

Are at that place any mobile apps for Mastodon?

You bet. Due to the open-source nature of Mastodon, you have a lot of choices for apps on both iPhone and Android.

Your first and easiest choice is the official app from Mastodon gGmbH (for iOS or Android), merely there are other solid third-political party apps. The two nigh popular culling Mastodon apps correct at present are Metatext for iPhone and Tusky for Android.

Mastodon apps for iPhone:

  • Metatext
  • Tootle for Mastodon
  • Toot!
  • Stella
  • Mast

Mastodon apps for Android:

  • Tusky
  • Subway Tooter
  • mastalab
  • 11t

If you do become started with Mastodon, brand certain to follow me (And say how-do-you-do!)

For more than almost social media and Twitter, follow a
timeline of the Elon Musk purchase
and read about thebig changes that could be in store for Twitter.

Correction, Nov. 7:
A previous version of this story incorrectly described Mastodon’southward features. Mastodon added the power to edit posts in March 2022.


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