Mastodon has emerged as one of the top Twitter alternatives, leaving many to wonder if it’s time to set up an account. The up-and-coming social media site was formed in 2016 but saw a massive user boost after Elon Musk took over Twitter. If you’re considering making the switch, it’s worth comparing the two sites first.
What is Mastodon?
Mastodon is a decentralized social media site broken up into servers operated by various entities. Each server has its own themes, rules, and moderators. Still, you can communicate with users from other servers as well as those on your server. This concept may sound complicated, but it’s easy to understand once you get your account up and running.
Mastodon vs. Twitter
Twitter is a social media and micro-blogging site owned by Elon Musk. It was previously publicly traded but has been a private company since October 27, 2022. On the other hand, Mastodon is decentralized, meaning it isn’t owned by a singular entity. According to Mastodon’s founder, Eugen Rochko, “The code is free, open-source software, and nobody can change the license or take it back retroactively, and all of the different servers are owned by other people.”
Mastodon’s decentralized approach makes it an attractive option for those who disagree with Twitter’s new direction. Twitter provides a more robust user base, meaning you’ll see more posts and get more engagement. Still, Mastodon’s growing user base already includes notable figures like George Takei, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen Fry.
Both sites let you follow others, write short posts, and like posts from other users. Additionally, both can be accessed on your web browser or via their smartphone apps.
Mastodon pros and cons
- Character limit: Mastodon posts are limited to 500 characters instead of the 280 you’re allowed on Twitter.
- Enhanced security: In April 2022, Mastodon tweeted, “We’ve been planning on adding end-to-end encrypted messages to the platform for a while now. It’s coming.” Although direct messages aren’t yet encrypted, the site gives you plenty of control over who can see your posts.
- Decentralization: The decentralized nature of Mastodon means large corporations can’t purchase it. Additionally, it makes it less likely that a single point of failure could shut the site down.
- Fewer users: As it stands, Mastodon has around 2 million active users, compared to about 206 million active Twitter users.
- Less user-friendly at first: Although the various servers become easier to understand over time, they can be intimidating when you first start.
- No monetization: This can be a good thing, but it may cause issues down the line. People and organizations are paying to operate the servers used to host Mastodon accounts, but they have no financial incentive to do so. Over time, we’ll see if Mastodon’s community-funded model works or if servers begin to shut down when people are tired of paying for them.
Is Mastodon better than Twitter?
Mastodon offers an exciting alternative to those who don’t support Twitter’s new direction. It’s better than Twitter in many ways, but ultimately, it boils down to your preferences. If you care more about decentralization and security, Mastodon is the site for you. On the other hand, Twitter is still the best choice if you want exposure to as much content as possible.