If you’ve been a longtime Twitter user, chances are good that you’re familiar with some of Twitter’s more…unnecessary changes. While many of us have decided to stick with Twitter for the time being, a 24-year old German named Eugene Rochko decided to take matters into his own hands to develop a "better" version of Twitter. This decision has resulted in Mastodon, an open-source social network.
Named after a metal band that Rochko enjoys, Mastodon as a whole looks functionally identical to Twitter at first glance. However, there are a few key differences that separates Mastodon and Twitter. For starters, posts in Mastodon have a 500-character limit, far surpassing Twitter’s 140-character limit.
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Secondly, Mastodon isn’t designed to be a unified service. Unlike Twitter, the way Mastodon is built means that anyone who is interested can choose to host their own Mastodon servers which are referred to as Instances. A list of Mastodon Instances can be found here.
Apart from these two differences, Mastodon as a whole operates like a vanilla version of Twitter, with the post feed being sorted chronologically and a replies system that utilises the "@username" system.
Another interesting thing to note about Mastodon is that it has a set of rules and guidelines that explicitly informs users what they can and can’t do on the platform, something that Twitter is constantly criticized for.
The open-source nature of Mastodon is also a great boon to developers who are interested in the service. Thanks to the service’s use of an open API, developers are able to build apps for Mastodon. Furthermore, those who aren’t big fans of ads on Twitter would be glad to know that Mastodon does not contain any advertising.
At the time of writing, Mastodon’s main Instance currently has 41,703 users. Unfortunately, those looking to join Mastodon main Instance won’t be able to do so as registrations are closed in order to ensure the quality of service for existing users. That being said, those who wish to try out Mastodon can opt to join one of the many other Instances of this new social network service.
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