Twitter has been a hellsite for a while now but it became way more chaotic when Elon Musk took over after buying it.

Elon Musk has been winging it since he took the helm and it’s been just a mess. The incendiary tech mogul has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Twitter is Crumbling

Here’s what happened just this month. He removed the “tweeted from” labels on tweets, turned empty conference halls into bedrooms in the San Francisco Twitter headquarters for the workers who remained, put kitchen items on auction, got booed on stage at a Dave Chappelle event, rolled out confusing verification checkmarks and labels, stopped paying rent on its SF HQ, putting Spaces on hold before bringing the live audio feature back, suspending and banning accounts critical of him, re-enabling accounts and banning links that promoted accounts on rival social media platforms before rescinding on this policy.

His current task is now looking for a new CEO for Twitter – which he isn’t serious about as he’ll still run the software and servers teams.

After taking over, Elon Musk has been running Twitter using policy decisions that promote hate speech and harm vulnerable users – even from his personal tweets. Elon not only wants users to share their locations to continue using his platform but also to share their personal information for targeted ads.

The 51-year-old claims to be a free-speech absolutist but the past two months have been a learning curve for him regarding the principles of free speech and his turbulent leadership is pushing users to other platforms. Users and regulatory bodies in Brussels and Washinton DC are getting concerned. The EU is demanding Musk follow a checklist of rules or else Twitter gets banned across Europe while US authorities(CFIUS) are looking into the foreign ownership of Twitter.

Musk describes himself as centrist but he is a right-wing activist promoting right-wing causes and personalities and this is pushing more people off of Twitter. The joke is that he’ll make dedicated right-wing platforms like Parler and Truth Social obsolete.

Anyway, if you’re tired of this chaotic rollercoaster ride – then you’ve been looking for alternatives – other platforms aside from Twitter to do your usual doomscrolling.

Of all the other social media platforms including Parler, Post, Hive Social, Truth Social and Gettr,  Mastodon has gotten the most traction – dominating conversations on Twitter, ironically.

The decentralized(aka federated), ad-free and open-source microblogging platform founded by Eugen Rochko in 2016 has gotten so popular hitting around 300,000 monthly active users, close to 10,000 instances and adding over 2.5 million users between October and last month. With celebrities, authors, journalists, news organisations and politicians signing up. Mastodon boasts of having close to 9 million users compared to Twitter’s 237 million users and Facebook’s 2.9 billion users.

“This is a stark reminder that centralized platforms can impose arbitrary and unfair limits on what you can and can’t say while holding your social graph hostage. At Mastodon, we believe that there doesn’t have to be a middleman between you and your audience and that journalists and government institutions especially should not have to rely on a private platform to reach the public,” said Eugen in a blog post.

“Understanding that freedom of the press is absolutely essential for a functional democracy, we are excited to see Mastodon grow and become a household name in newsrooms across the world, and we are committed to continuing to improve our software to face up to new challenges that come with rapid growth and increasing demand,” he continues.

One huge difference between Mastodon and Twitter is that the former has several instances or servers located on different websites where its administrators have to run them as opposed to a central hub. The admins are responsible for these instances and that includes making them compliant with privacy and copyright laws across the globe such as Europe’s Digital Service Act and General Data Protection Regulation, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, and Digital Millennium Copyright Act among others.

All the laws aside, how do you go about if you’ve decided to join?

Joining Mastodon

Mastodon has an interface similar to Twitter even its elements including retweets, timelines, favourites, bookmarks, replies and hashtags. The platform is mature and has its content moderation and technicals figured out – sort of – we’ll explain below.

It’s much easier to setup on the web rather than on the app.

  • First thing first is choosing which instance to have your account on depending on your interest, the server content moderation rules and policies. The popular ones have waitlists as more people continue signing up. You can even set up on your own Instance. Some of them include mastodon.online, mastodon.social, mas.to, mastodon.xyz, mstdn.io, meow.social, journa.host, newsie.social, social.vivaldi.net, techhub.social/, vis.social and many more.
  • You can setup your profile as you would on any other social media including adding your avatar, header photo, bio and links. You can add up to four affiliated URLs to your profile
  • Mastodon doesn’t verify your account unlike how platforms like Twitter, and Instagram do it. You can self-verify by adding the verification code on a website that you link to your profile metadata. That link turns green when you’re verified.
  • To enhance your experience on Mastodon, you can enable the advanced web interface.
  • You can start following people on the platform by searching for their usernames on the search bar.
  • The best option especially if you want to follow the same people from Twitter is to import your following list – at least for people who already have Mastodon profiles. The best tool is MovetoDon which automatically lets you follow the same people you follow on Twitter on Mastodon.
  • Now your feed will start looking like what you’d see on your Twitter feed.
  • You can also follow people organically from the platform when you see your mutual boost posts on your feed.
  • You can build lists just like how you’d do on Twitter by tapping the three-dot menu on someone’s profile page.
  • To make your account private and safe, you can tick the option to Opt out of search engine indexing.
  • Other privacy options include changing the audience of your posts by controlling who sees your posts. The options range from public and unlisted, public, followers only and mentioned people only.
  • Oh, there’s a free edit button too.
  • To make your account even more secure, add two-factor authentication and use apps like Google Authenticator.
  • One huge privacy issue with Mastodon is that your DMs aren’t protected as the messages aren’t end-to-end encrypted and they could be read by anyone who runs the servers.
  • You can easily filter your notifications by enabling the show filter bar and Display all categories toggles. Doing so will sort your notifications just for mentions, new followers, favourites, boosts and poll results.

You can now use Mastodon on the web, on Android and on iOS(MetaText is a great option for Apple users).

We are on Mastodon by the way. You can follow Techweez here or my personal account here as well.

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