Mastodon Is More Exciting Than Twitter

Mastodon offers a wild, untapped, landscape of incredible potential.

Mastodon Is More Exciting Than Twitter

News. News is one of the largest reasons people use Twitter. Local news, international news. From stories posted by local channels, to breaking reports from journalists on the front lines of some important story. Despite having far fewer active users than some social media sites, Twitter has become a de facto crossroads for human public communication. Elon Musk was right about Twitter becoming the world’s town square. But this isn’t about Musk, or even about Twitter. This is about a social network called Mastodon.

I do want to convince you to join Mastodon, but this story isn’t about that, exactly, either…. Mastodon could provide incredible boons to local organizations, news outlets, cities, and local communities of friends.

Bear with me through a brief moment of explanation

Mastodon began as a personal project by Eugen Rochko, but blossomed into something so much more. Let’s get a few things out of the way as quickly as possible:

Mastodon is served by a non-profit organization that continues development, it is entirely crowdfunded and currently makes a measly $144,000 per year from its Patreon. That’s not a lot when it comes to developing something as incredible as a million-person social media network.

Mastodon doesn’t run ads and doesn’t have big corporate backers. There are no shareholders. There is no single company that holds all of your data.

There are points of concern that I’ve seen floated by people new to the idea of Federated socials. People are either fearful of signing up for just another Tumblr/Facebook/Twitter, where their hard-created social communities can be just suddenly destroyed. I get that! But the whole point of Mastodon is to avoid just that sort of thing from occurring.

If you want to know more about Mastodon, please read my Myths About Mastodon article, where I go into things at length.

The dream of the localized net

By Black Groundnut’s Savior — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

When Twitter dies, it’s going to take a wedge out of our knowledge database. Suddenly, we won’t have a way to access the information that we have come to rely upon. We’ve built pathways of experience through our use of Twitter, and retraining those can feel difficult. Much harder will be rebuilding the networks we’ve created.

But Mastodon promises something thoroughly different.

For instance: currently, your news station posts to their Twitter account, and that either gets read by a few people, or doesn’t depending on algorithmic nonsense in the background.

But, local news outlets are the most important part of the free press. Even though they’ve been gutted by the terrible corporate interests that run the major news services, the local networks that remain are vital hubs for our real-world communities.

So, imagine that your local news channel hosts its own Mastodon server. People could join it directly, or just follow the accounts of the specific news anchors they care the most about. No algorithms to get in the way.

Germany already has this!

Germany is ahead of the curve when it comes to using Mastodon.

Imagine if your city council hosted a Mastodon instance! Imagine if your hometown could connect to one Mastodon server run as a public service. The European Union hosts an official Mastodon server!

What about a case of cyber-bullying?

Imagine being a popular entertainer, who finds themselves under attack by extremists who have set up an alt-right Mastodon server. Well, admins of Mastodon servers can choose who they remain federated with… so our hypothetical victim appeals to the admins, and they blacklist the rogue alt-right server. Poof. And that blacklist spreads to other servers who hear about it. Poof. Poof. Poof. And, if the entertainer did need to move, they could easily switch to a safe server without losing their account information and connections.

Rather than appealing to a company’s support team, direct action can be taken. Because the user is fundamentally in charge of where they put their information.

Steps to get there

So, how do we get to the rosy future where Mastodon, and federated networks in general, have supplanted the creepy Musk-owned corporations of the social media world?


The non-profit behind Mastodon is only getting a paltry $144,000 of funding per year in donations. If every person who migrated from Twitter gave just $1, we’d see a giant push in funding for the development of the platform.

Be aware, too, that both the non-profit that develops Mastodon, AND the Mastodon server you’re joining need to be funded. Running a small server isn’t too hard, but can cost a few hundred bucks a year. Running a large server is extremely complex, with costs in the thousands per year. So, donate both ways. A dollar to the Mastodon non-profit and a dollar to the server you’re deciding to join! (You can find donation links for your server in the About section of that server).

While you’re at it, donate a dollar to Wikipedia.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, this all comes down to a couple of things. Funding and people. We need funding to flow away from places like Facebook and Twitter and into places like Mastodon. We also require individual people to become involved, to use the service, and to tell their friends about it. We need LAN parties, but for setting up Mastodon profiles. We require initiatives aimed at trusted institutions with the resources to manage safe servers efficiently. And we need to dramatically increase the funding for the development and improvement of the Mastodon software.

All of this is completely possible. A future where no Elon Musk or Jack Dorsey can undermine democracy whilst searching for their imperial dreams of a long empire run by the mega-rich. Their way would see humanity survive beneath the yoke of self-proclaimed philosopher kings. Federated systems like Mastodon offer a different path into the future. One where real democracy is respected and employed.

Hi there! I’m Odin Halvorson, a librarian, independent scholar, film fanatic, fiction author, and tech enthusiast. If you like my work and want to support me, please consider becoming a paid subscriber for as little as $2.50 a month!

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