Centralized social media is dead, long live social media!

Between Twitter’s upcoming (though postponed, still upcoming) changes, Facebook’s ongoing issues with privacy and screwing with its users, and G+ – well, I’ll talk more about my issues with them in a few days – I was in search of a fresh social media experience, one that wasn’t going to make social media useless in order to make a profit.

I’ve started using Mastodon, and now that the initial buzz has died down, I’m finding it to feel like Twitter in the early days, before the trolls and Nazis and crappiness and “sorted timelines” and “promoted tweets”.  As Michael W Lucas (on Mastodon as @mwlucas@bsd.network) puts it:

[E]ach server can moderate others on a server by server basis. There are known white supremacist Masto instances, but nobody talks to them except other white supremacists.

I don’t have to worry about someone @-ing in Richard Spencer and unleashing the slavering idiot trolls on me.

Most of the Mastoverse talks to itself quite nicely.

It’s AMAZING how much better we are when the worst 10% of humanity is walled away.

It’s not perfect. There’s still disputes & arguments. But it’s like a neighborhood picnic next to Twitter’s open sewer.

Mastodon is decentralized and not commercial at all, so you’re not at the whims of a CEO or Zuckerberg.

That decentralization is great – but also what kept me from joining for a while. You see, there’s not one monolithic server, but lots of them.  And I kept thinking that if I joined one instance that my friends weren’t on, I’d be walled off from them (like the way WoW servers are).

This is not the case.

When you join a Mastodon instance, you have your user name followed by your instance – like @mwlucas@bsd.network above, or mine as @StevenSaus@faithcollapsing.com, and be greeted by a web page that looks a lot like Tweetdeck.  Your “Home” column is people you follow, “Local” are people on your instance, and the “Federated Timeline” is everyone on all the federated instances.  So even if I wasn’t following Michael, I might see his toots (of course they’re toots) on the Federated timeline. But since I am following him, they show up in my Home timeline as well.

You can use the Twitter <-> Mastodon bridge to find Twitter friends on Mastodon, and of course, follow myself and Michael.

If this isn’t enough of a guide, you can find more extensive ones on The Verge and Medium.

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