I keep hearing about this new social network called Mastodon. It’s like Twitter but not exactly. You have toots instead of tweets (huge eye roll) but the biggest difference is instead of one main service it’s comprised of thousands of independent communities. The benefit is that it’s not owned by some huge corp and everything is independent. Here is how they describe it:

Mastodon isn’t just a website, it is a federation—think Star Trek. Thousands of independent communities running Mastodon form a coherent network, where while every planet is different, being part of one is being part of the whole.

Sounds good in theory but after I registered I then realized because I registered my username on mastodon.social I technically don’t “own” the username I signed up with. Someone else could own the same one on another Mastodon instance.  We could have thousands of Eric Barnes and who knows if you are talking to me or talking to someone else?

Then the other selling point is that it’s safer than other social networks:

Mastodon comes with effective anti-abuse tools to help protect yourself. Thanks to the network’s spread out and independent nature there are more moderators who you can approach for personal help, and servers with strict codes of conduct.

I think this is a pipe dream. Maybe the anti-abuse tools are better but just, because there are thousands of independent communities, doesn’t make it safer. Even with more unpaid moderators who still has to make judgment calls on what is right and wrong. Right now the only benefit it has going for it is that it’s still not widely used. If a huge migration of users happens I think it’ll be the same as any other network.

The final complaint I have is that it feels so much like Twitter, yet you have to rebuild your entire following on a brand new platform. That is not something I have the willpower or care to do.

I’ll be sticking with Twitter and Instagram for now and I imagine Mastodon will be extinct, like the animal its named after, in a few years. At best it’ll have a weird cult following like IRC still does. As much as I’d love to have an open source independent social network, I don’t see this being a thing for the masses.

One thought on “ First thoughts on the Mastodon Social Network ”

  1. It’s kinda strange, that Federation thing. I’m toying around (again) on a social network called Diaspora which is kinda sorta like a blog/social media thing. Though it seems to attract more of a “cult following” of FOSS fanatics, geeky technocrats, left-leaning anarchists and even a few Nazis, it *also* attracts those of us who care about privacy, data mining, that sort of stuff. While Mastodon is much more like Twitter, Diaspora is more akin to Facebook – but without the scandalous invasions of privacy.


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