Mastodon: Into the Fediverse, Part I

I have been following the recent acquisition of Twitter by a billionaire vulgarian with curiosity. Would he actually go through with the extravagant purchase of a company that no one really wanted him to buy? What would happen if he did?

The second question was quickly answered by the first as the new owner proceeded to undo the (limited) good that was done by Twitter when it belatedly suspended the account of the forty-fifth President of the United States due to the risk of further incitement of violence and then decimated the workforce of the company, summarily firing thousands of hard-working, loyal employees.

“The Network Contagion Research Institute analyzes social media content. Its researchers found a 500% increase in use of the N-word on Twitter within 12 hours of Musk taking over. There’ve also been big spikes in the use of antisemitic, homophobic, transphobic, and other racist terms besides the N-word on the platform.”

Shaun Harper, Hate Speech Rises On Twitter After Elon Musk Takes Over, Researchers Find, Forbes, Oct 31, 2022,12:16am EDT

The increase (or perhaps acceleration) on the platform has also been worrying and the “free speech” rhetoric of the new owner seem to be giving tacit permission for the worst people to indulge their worst impulses.

All of these changes, expected or not, have highlighted the problem with a privately-owned public forum: It is not public or democratic. It is a company and a business and, to paraphrase others, we are the product.

Since Elon Musk took ownership of Twitter, some of its users have migrated to Mastodon, an alternative social platform.

Kalley Huang, The New York Times, Nov. 7, 2022

My earlier forays into FOSS (free, open-source software) came back to me as I read about movement towards the federated, locally-hosted, FOSS micro-blogging service named Mastodon. A little reading brought me to the Mastodon homepage at joinmastodon.org and from there I found my new home on the fosstodon.org service with my new handle @atyodickerson@fosstodon.org. (Hint: Mastodon username look like broken email addresses with that extra @ at the front, by they are very different.

I have been tinkering with Mastodon ever since and am so far really pleased with what I have found. It is smaller and more localized, not as monolithic as Twitter, which is referred to as #birdsite by the wags in Mastodon’s “Fediverse.” the federated network of individual Mastodon instances. I reminds me of earlier days on The Web when communication was more personal and expressive.

More to come as I explore Mastodon: phone apps, explorations of the Fediverse, bots (the fun kind) and thoughts about hosting my own Mastodon server somewhere, somehow!

In the meantime, I highly recommend the Mastodon-curious start with the Fedi.Tips website linked below. It has really given me a lot of great, useful information and it is a light, friendly read, too. See you one the other side!

Fedi.Tips

What is the Fediverse and how does it work? The answer to this and many other Mastodon-related questions can be found in this excellent online guide.

Start with Mastodon and the Fediverse: Beginners Start Here for answers to burning questions like “What is Mastodon?” “What is the Fediverse?” and (most importantly) “How do I join?”

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