Users Are Leaving Twitter In Droves, Here’s Where They Are Heading Instead

Twitter users unhappy with Elon Musks takeover are fleeing to Mastodon where you post toots instead of tweets.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion in late October, he has struggled to allay concerns about the potential surge of misinformation and hate speech on the platform. As a result, some users of the micro-blogging site have been searching for alternatives. The most popular option is Mastodon which has an estimated 4.5 million accounts.

According to CNN Business, Mastodon allows users to join different servers run by various groups and individuals instead of a central platform controlled by a single company like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. The little-known site was developed in 2016 by a nonprofit run by Eugen Rochko. Because the social network is free of ads, it is supported through crowdfunding and is called a federation.

When folks sign up for Mastodon, they are prompted to choose a server. They are often themed by country, city, or interests like music, gaming, and technology. Interest group servers are also organized into sub-groups like metal music, PHP programmers, and animation professionals. But the choice of server isn’t too important since you can follow users on other servers too.


Administrators can also be selective about the other servers they federate with. Additionally, server owners can specify that moderators must manually approve new Mastodon accounts. And in some instances, new users may be required to receive an invitation from someone already on the site before they join. Once you’ve signed up, the website will be home to your account, profile, and feeds. Much like an email account, usernames include the name of the server itself.

For example, a possible username on Mastodon Social would be [email protected]. Users can then post toots which are the platform’s version of tweets, The New York Times reports. You can also boost other people’s toots, as the equivalent of a retweet. The platform also has a feature that allows folks to report messages and content directly to the server owner.

This could raise a point of concern for potential Mastodon users as moderation rules differ from server to server. Some might not have any established rules at all. This individual management of the server also leaves users at the mercy of the individual or group running that server. Anyone planning to shut down their server is required to give the platform three months’ notice. At present, the most popular servers are struggling in terms of speed.

More adventurous folks can even start their own Mastodon server and set their own rules. But doing so can be slightly complicated. Users have to host it themselves, which requires a website, a virtual computer system connected to the internet, and an email provider. The PC being used will also require strong security protocols and programming languages.

Once those requirements are sorted, potential server owners can download Mastodon’s code. The company also has detailed instructions for anyone interested in setting up their own server, which is not necessary for joining or using the site.

Speaking about the increased interest in Mastodon, Eugen Rochko said the social network gained 489,000 users in less than two weeks. It now boasts over one million active monthly users. “That’s pretty cool,” Rochko said of the milestone.