Society today has become increasingly online. You do your shopping online, watch shows and movies online, and even communicate with your friends and family online. The internet has allowed people to have easy access to virtually anything. With so much information and content available to everyone, it’s inevitable that people are going to form their own opinions.
That’s one beauty of the internet: it has encouraged discourse about various different topics because those topics are now easily accessible to anyone. With so many opinions on so many different topics, it can be hard to keep everything in, so why not share these thoughts with the entire world (or a select few, if you wish)?
This is where social media comes in.
Social Media Today
In this age of technology, almost everyone has signed up for some form of social media– be it Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If the apps of today don’t tickle your fancy and you were lucky enough to have been born a little earlier, then perhaps you’ve experienced the wonders of Friendster. Regardless of which social media app you prefer, it’s an undeniable fact that these apps and sites have impacted how people interact with each other.
Currently, around 59.3 percent of the entire world is on social media. If that percentage doesn’t seem too impressive, that’s about 4.74 billion people!
In the beginning, a few social media sites dominated this field, namely: Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Linkedin, and Twitter. But as times change and technology evolves, newer apps have risen to fame. Take Tiktok for example. Other independent groups are also striving to create social media sites that cater to others’ needs and preferences. Mastodon would be one great example of that.
Twitter has been the center of a few controversies as of late because of the recent incident with Elon Musk buying out Twitter. With more and more people being unsure of how the app will turn out in the future, the app’s users have been flocking to other sites such as Mastodon.
So what’s the big deal between these two?
Considered one of the big three when it comes to social media, along with Facebook and Linked In, Twitter is highly recommended amongst businesses who want to establish a strong presence online. It boasts 237.8 million active daily users and 486 million users in total, becoming the world’s very own bulletin.
Here, people are able to express their opinions and voice out grievances. Many create “spam accounts” that people use as some sort of personal diary where they can rant about their daily lives and complain to their heart’s content. Unlike Facebook, Twitter limits how long each post should be and doesn’t display people’s given and last names. This is what makes it appealing to most, the ability to create an online persona without having to divulge much about yourself. The limited character count also makes it great to just type out a quick frustration or burst of anger and then go about your day.
However, with how free Twitter can be in terms of what you can post, it has become a breeding ground for some hostile conversations and discussions. The term “Chronically Online” refers to people who spend so much time on the internet absorbing massive amounts of content to the point where their perception of reality becomes skewed. It is said that most of these types of people flock to sites such as Twitter because of how lax the regulations can be. This has paved the way for some interesting conversation threads that range from mildly infuriating to downright violating.
In more recent times, controversies about Elon Musk buying Twitter and what he intends to do with the app have been circulating. Many are unsure of what Twitter’s direction in the future will be, so most have been looking to transfer to different apps. One app, in particular, has gotten more and more Twitter users to migrate.
While apps like Twitter and Facebook have had decades of experience to back them up, this up-and-coming social media, Mastodon, has only been around for a couple of years.
Back in 2016, a German programmer by the name of Eugen Rochko dreamt of creating a social media site that would function publicly and wouldn’t be owned and regulated by just one single company. This led to the creation of Mastodon.
It is marketed as a social media app that functions much like Twitter where users can post “toots” (instead of “tweets”) about virtually anything. It has a more decentralized approach and is divided into different servers or “instances.” So essentially, there isn’t just one Mastodon platform, but rather hundreds, and each is managed by different people. To make things easier to comprehend, you could think of it as some sort of lovechild between Twitter, Reddit, and Discord– but, largely inspired by Twitter.
Scrolling through its initial homepage, Mastodon.social, you’ll find that it takes after Twitter quite a lot: with how the posts are formatted, its look, and its overall purpose. But with the presence of different servers, one can liken it to Reddit and Discord where people have created their own little communities. Like Reddit, each server has a moderator with its own rules and regulations set in place. The servers also revolve around particular topics which will allow you to have autonomy over what content you’ll see. And because Mastodon isn’t owned by a single company and is run mostly by volunteers, there are no ads!
In the past years, it has seen steady growth with an average of 60-80 new users every hour. However, since the issues with Elon Musk and Twitter have been escalating, the app has seen an increase in new users that now rose to around 3,500 new users in an hour. As of 2022, the app has been reported to have reached around a million or so active monthly users which is a big win for them. But compared to the millions of daily users that Twitter has, they still have a long way to go–but it’s still a good start at least.
Similarities and Differences
With all this talk about Twitter and Mastodon, it’s clear that many are comparing the two. After all, even Mastodon’s founder created this app because of controversies surrounding Elon Musk and Twitter, so it’s not much of a stretch to say that Mastodon’s initial purpose is to serve as an alternative to Twitter. But with that being said, how similar are these two apps? And what are their differences?
- Microblogging – Much like Twitter, Mastodon’s main goal is to provide its users with a platform to post their feelings and interact with a community of their choice. In a sense, each profile can be likened to a mini blog that each person has that’ll allow their followers to get a glimpse into their life, interests, and opinions.
- Following topics – On Twitter, you’d sometimes see suggestions on topics that the algorithm might think you’d be interested in. In a way, this tweaks your Twitter feed to be filled with topics that go along the lines of themes of the posts that you usually like or profiles you follow. Mastodon also has this but in the form of joining “Instances.”
- Autonomy – One great thing about Mastodon is that you have full control over what type of content you see–what you choose is what you get. This is unlike Twitter, where you’ll sometimes see posts from accounts that you don’t follow or promoted posts that have nothing to do with your interests.
- Decentralized approach – The main selling point of Mastodon is that it follows a more decentralized approach wherein it isn’t owned by one company. Instead, it’s a free-for-all site where anyone can create an “Instance” and build their own community with its own rules and moderators. With this, the app can never be “bought” and the way it runs can never change.
- Instances – Remember how Mastodon was likened to Reddit? Well, this is it, because since there is no one Mastodon platform, you’ll have to sign-up to servers or “Instances” instead. Think of it as subreddits where each one revolves around just one topic and has its own set of regulations. A difference to Reddit though is that the “Instances” that you’re a part of are shared through your profile and your followers can still see all your posts.
- Ads – No ads! Since Twitter is a privately owned company, they still need to make a profit, and how do they do that? Through ads. However, since Mastodon isn’t owned by anyone, there are no ads!
- Communities – Unlike Twitter, Mastodon allows you to build communities of like-minded people easily. This can be done by joining different “Instances.”
The Final Verdict?
Truly, it’s a tough decision. But here’s some food for thought:
Twitter is an established app that has been running for decades. This ensured a smooth platform with easy-to-navigate sites. Because it’s so popular, you’ll have no problem connecting with your friends and sharing tweets with them. The signup and site navigation are also pretty straightforward because there aren’t any other servers or logistics that you have to think of. Just sign-up, follow some people, and tweet! Overall, if you’re not picky and don’t really care about Twitter’s direction in the future, and maybe if you want to connect with your already existing friends, then Twitter is for you.
Mastodon on the other hand offers a more holistic platform that’s community-centered and is run by volunteers. This ensures sincere and quality content. However, the platform is still relatively new and most reviews on the app store have stated that they’ve encountered a few bugs and problems while exploring the app. Speaking of exploring, navigating the “Instances” and finding your way around can be quite tricky because you aren’t just signing up for Mastodon per se, but rather, in different “Instances.” So if it’s community and quality that you’re looking for, then Mastodon it is!
All in all, the choice is yours. After the recent take over (and bunch of stupid decisions, as expected) by Mr. Musk Melon, it’s better to get rid of Twitter forever and join the Mastodon.