A decentralized social network, which is not governed by anyone and non-commercial called Mastodon, has become popular during the last month. Mastodon owns several servers with a particular theme and a person can create an account on one server, but add or follow other accounts on other servers. There is no advertising and the network is sustained thanks to Patreon and sponsors.
The last few weeks on the social network Twitter have been very busy. Elon Musk has taken over it after paying 44,000 million dollars. Since then he has been very involved in his social network and has created several controversies such as arguing with employees and employees, and with anyone who said something unpleasant. It seems that most of the messages are written by himself, although obviously he has some people who also upload in his name.
Twitter today seems to be Elon Musk’s millionaire whim. At the same time, the idea has grown that Twitter can stop being what it is, a social network of micromessages, to become a niche of troll accounts or bots that flood the network with advertising and negativity.
History of Mastodon
Mastodon gGmbH is a German-born non-profit organization that develops Mastodon software. Mastodon started in 2016 as an open source project created by Eugen Rochko, who was not at all satisfied with the status and direction Twitter was taking.
Believing that instantaneous global communications were too crucial for modern society to belong to a single commercial enterprise, he sought to create an easy-to-use microblogging product that belonged to no central authority but remained practical for everyday use.
The first public release came in October 2016. The initial support the project received through Patreon ensured that Eugen could begin working on the project full-time after graduation. The page can be seen its evolution in archive.org, which has a first snapshot recorded in June 2017.
How an account is structured
All Mastodon accounts have a path that includes the username and server name separated by the @ symbol. For example, my account has this @Avertigo@infosec.exchange address. Therefore, it is an account created on the infosec server that is part of the fediverse. Fediverse is a common and informal name to refer to an open-verse series of servers whose main purpose is to publish content; for example, in the form of social networks, microblogging, blogging or websites.
Mastodon usually allows you to view the content and interact with users from any other server in the fediverse. There are exceptions if a particular server puts it in its usage rules.
Mastodon is not a simple website or domain. To use it it is necessary to create an account in a provider – called servers – that allow the connection between people throughout the universe of Mastodon servers. All servers have to accept a server agreement that is located in the following https://joinmastodon.org/es/covenant path and you can choose between theme or region.
On the servers page you can see how the platform is growing. The data as of November 16, 2022, collected from all Mastodon servers are:
- Monthly active users: 1.9 million, an increase in the last month of 419%.
- 6.1K active servers (thousands), an increase in the last month of 112%.
The importance of moderation
Mastodon allows people, not algorithms or bots, to make decisions. Each server creates its own rules and regulations, which are applied locally and are not applied as corporate or commercial social networks, making it the most flexible in responding to the needs of different groups of people.
On each server you can know who the person in charge of that server is by adding /about to the end of the domain. For example, for the infosec server it would be https://infosec.exchange/about and in this section you can see the rules of the server or the moderated servers. The original server also has its about section in the https://joinmastodon.org/about path.
Once joined to a server you must agree with its rules since otherwise it is a warning or a ban on the account.
Microbloggin social networks are increasingly important in a globalized and internet-centric world. There is a weariness in many people with traditional social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. The latter has become a niche of trolls, bots and people who share opinions to create controversy and filling the network with hashtags of negativity.
Mastodon tries to combat these negative accounts by using servers with their own rules and governed by people. And it is that your main page of any social network should be full of what you care about and interest you most, and not direct what you do based on advertising or algorithms that think about you. Therefore, Mastodon is a different social network that is in the hands of people like you or me.