Even before Elon Musk bought it, Twitter had a reputation for being a terrible site. It has great potential to amplify underrepresented voices, but it also exploits our worst social inclinations. We might speculate endlessly as to the causes, but I believe it all boils down to deliberate design decisions. Like other social media sites, Twitter is optimised for user interaction.
If Twitter, However, Were Optimised in A Different Way, What Might Happen? in What Form Would that Take?
This is the key to the independence of Mastodon and the ActivityPub protocol that drives it. The company isn’t just another startup. This is not a legitimate business. The term “community” is appropriate here. Nothing is being tracked or sold, and there are no advertisements. Culture, design, and coding here were all influenced by people from underrepresented groups who sought refuge here from the trolls and doomscrollers who plague social media. The kind of place where you go to connect with others rather than to do anything.
If you find that to be nonsense, I won’t be surprised. A lot of nonsense that all sounds the same is floating around at the moment (see: crypto). The modern world has conditioned us to view every internet service as a bid for publicity and financial gain. However, the ActivityPub community is not the same as the “Fediverse,” as it is commonly referred as by users.
Having no idea where to begin, I reached out to the internet for advice. I got hundreds of helpful suggestions, a rickroll from someone, and a phenomenal Beatles/Pokémon mashup from another. Such reactions are commonplace in this society, which consists largely of pranksters who seek out one-on-one interactions.
In the same way, they can be quite useful if you demonstrate a willingness to learn about the culture and interact with people on their terms. I’ve done my best to absorb the advice and historical background they provided. Okay, let’s start exploring.
Insanely Confusing: Defining the Fediverse
The analogy between Mastodon and Twitter seems appealing. Similarities include the use of “like” buttons, the ability to share postings with others, and the ability to follow other users’ microblogs among other similarities. However, the parallel isn’t entirely accurate.
First, I’ve already established that Mastodon is not a corporation; rather, it’s a collaboratively developed open source software project. ActivityPub is the protocol upon which that software is based, allowing it to communicate with a wide variety of other programmes.
I’ll admit that this does not sound very exciting, but trust me, it is not. At this time, screenshots of other social networking sites can be found on every major networking site. Reddit screenshots flood Twitter, and Instagram screenshots flood Reddit. As ridiculous as this situation is, it persists due to the impossibility of sharing content created for one platform on another.
So, here is where the Fediverse comes in. Picture a world where social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook were all interconnected and you could do things like follow an Instagram account on Twitter or respond to a YouTube comment on Facebook. The Fediverse functions like this.
Here Are the 12 Best Black Friday Google Device Deals
The ActivityPub protocol may power a wide variety of useful programmes. Pixelfed is a picture-sharing website that works much as Instagram did (before it tried to become TikTok). OwnCast is a streaming service, and PeerTube is a video-sharing website. Mastodon’s predecessors include Friendica and Gnu Social. And I could go on. Those who use Mastodon can also be followed by those who use any of these other apps and vice versa. The entire system is linked together.
Perhaps we would all take fewer screenshots if that were how the most popular social media sites currently functioned. It’s okay if you’re confused. The only thing you really need to know is that Mastodon isn’t the only network it can communicate with. Let’s chat about where to begin now.
Identify a Mastodon Server
Mastodon’s need that new users pick a server can be perplexing to those coming from Twitter. This is a criterion that many would like to see eliminated, and I can see why they feel that way. But this isn’t a flaw; it’s the whole point!
Mastodon is open source, so anyone may install it and customise it to their needs. A more common term is “instances,” however “servers” can also be used. Because of Discord, the meaning of the word “server” has become muddled because individual communities are referred to as “servers,” despite the fact that everything is actually hosted by Discord the corporation.
It’s not like that on Mastodon. A Mastodon server is an autonomous system that is run by a third party. Using their own server, they uploaded the Mastodon programme. Someone in that position, or a group of individuals in that position, can change how the software operates, decide who gets moderated, and delete accounts. Even worse, they can read your direct messages (DMs), just like Twitter workers (if you want secure communications, you should check out Signal.)