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Is Mastodon really the only alternative to Twitter?

carolvanzyl

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As Elon Musk stepped in as the ‘Master Twit’ of Twitter, many followers are considering leaving the app nest and moving on to greener social pastures. With the current Twitter dilemma unfolding and making newsfeed headlines, followers have started migrating to Mastodon, but is this, in fact, the better alternative for Twitter?

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Let’s take a closer look at what the Mastodon fuss is about before giving up on tweeting altogether.

Is Mastodon really the only alternative to Twitter?

What is Mastodon?

Mastodon is a microblogging site founded in 2016 by Eugen Rochko, a German software developer dissatisfied with Twitter. But unlike other social media sites such as Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, etc., Mastodon is a nonprofit that aims to benefit the public instead of the shareholders.

Mastodon could be compared to Twitter, Discord and Reddit and seen as a hybrid of these social platforms:

  • Individual communities are referred to as “instances”, which appear like mastodon.social in a user’s URL bar – similar to Discord and subreddits.
  • Mastodon also features tabs for trending news and hashtags.
  • As with Twitter, you can follow accounts and people which appear similar when scrolling through content.
Is Mastodon really the only alternative to Twitter

Source: screenshot

What are the issues new users have with Mastodon?

Firstly it can be challenging to find a server to join, especially when people are swamping servers which can cause waitlist creation, and some of those running a server don’t make it easy to find the values and rules of their servers.

Maintaining servers also has significant technical and financial challenges, which grow with the increased activity and members. There is the possibility of membership fees to cover the server hosting costs.

The most considerable tension could be considered when favoriting, following and finding. It has come to my attention that help is needed once you locate someone to follow. It becomes a hassle for something that should be a simple action to complete. There seems to be a similar issue when boosting or favoriting a post. Searching and finding people to follow could be intimidating for new users adding to the frustration of starting anew with microblogging.

But with the possibility of a Twitter meltdown, should the frustrations continue growing, it makes sense to explore other potential Twitter alternatives.

Twitter alternatives to consider

Mastodon

Mastodon is an open-source alternative to Twitter which offers more control over conversations and what you see. It can be used as individual “instances, ” meaning you can access specifically designed versions, generally topic-themed. You can have an instance and run a social network as an open-source.

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Mastadon icon

Discord

Discord, another alternative, is as straightforward as Mastodon and can set up a chat server for any cause. All topics and servers are available, which might be thought of as “live chat Reddit” in Discord. Even though Discord started as a chat forum for online gamers, it has grown beyond that, and now you can upload media, host video chats, record voice chats and much more.

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Mastodon vs discord

Instagram

Most users that use Twitter can be found on Instagram, and many would consider it an alternative to Twitter. It also allows you to follow other accounts and supports hashtags. But more importantly, many users already use Instagram and are four times more active than Twitter.

Instagram is also very user-friendly, which could be a more obvious alternative.

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Mastodon vs Instagram

Gab

Gab chose a free speech-focused service and has become an “alt-right” alternative to Twitter. Although in 2016 Apple App Store banned Gab, in 2017, the app was removed by Google from the Play Store, stating: “demonstrate a sufficient level of moderation, including for content that encourages violence and advocates hate against groups of people.”

It is a shame, though, as it is a valuable platform with 300-character status updates and a UI that appears as a combination of Twitter and Facebook.

Mastodon vs gab

Parler

Parler is considered a more conservative social media platform. Creating an account and posting is quick and straightforward. You can also like (upvoted), share (echoed) and reply, which is the same as Twitter. 

Interesting fun fact: the rapper Kanye West purchased Parler in October 2022.

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Mastodon vs gab

What is your alternative to Twitter?

Whether you have reached your limits with all the Twitter madness reaching newsfeeds or want to remain a “crawler”  and see the drama unfold is entirely up to you! But hopefully, these alternatives keep your spirits up instead of getting caught up in Elon Musk’s recent twitting decisions.

And although there are some hiccups with Mastodon, there were a few in Twitter’s early days, so only time will tell. With 474,000 new Mastodon accounts growing, Rochko said that Mastodon has increased to more than a million users that use the social network daily.

With a bit of patience, Mastodon could be a great alternative, but rather do your research before you take the final step of flying the Twitter nest. Ultimately we all use microblogging for different reasons, and you need to fit the best alternative to suit your needs. So whether you continue to tweet or would instead start tooting, I hope you find your followers easy and share posts wisely.

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