How to use Mastodon, an alternative to Twitter

Lots of people are looking for a Twitter alternative after Elon Musk bought the social networking site last month, changed the site rules in impersonation, switched on half of the site staff, and announced plans to sell “blue check” verification badges for $8 per month.

One of the fastest growing alternatives is Mastodonwhich is a lot like Twitter.

But Mastodon is not a Twitter clone. It’s a free open source platformOriginally released in 2016 by developer Eugen Rochko, it is made up of many different instances or servers, rather than being managed by one company on one domain name.

This makes signing up and finding your friends a bit more difficult.

There are also weird little quirks. The tweets are called “toots”. Retweets are called “pushes.” Because it’s an open source project, it doesn’t have the same level of polish as professionally owned and operated social networking sites like Twitter.

Emails and uploading can be slow. It’s a bit like using Linux versus Windows or MacOS.

Mastodon has been growing rapidly. In the 12 days after Musk’s purchase of Twitter, Mastodon app downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play for Android increased more than 100 times previous rates to 322,000 installs during the period, according to Sensor analysis. Tower, an application analytics firm.

On November 7th, Mastodon founder Rochko products that there were more than 1 million monthly active users of the service. That’s still far lower than the more than 245 million daily active Twitter users that CEO Elon Musk tweeted about this week.

Here’s what you need to know about Mastodon:

First you need to choose a server or an instance

Mastodon’s home page is displayed on a handheld mobile phone screen. It has been reported that more than 200,000 new users flocked to the social media app after Elon Musk took over Twitter.

David Bonaldo | light rocket | fake images

Because anyone can set up their own Mastodon server, there is no central place to sign up like You have to find a server to register. These are known as “instances” and you can think of them as email providers.

A user in one instance can interact with users in other instances, including follow-up, reply, and promotion. All cases taken together are called “fediversos”. (The term comes from “federated,” which refers to the way servers work together in a loosely connected way, again, similar to email.)

Each instance has its own URL, which comes after its username, sort of like an email domain. There are more than 5,000 instances, according to a Mastodon usage tracking site, and often follow a particular theme, such as a geographic region or theme. Some require you to fill out a short application form with information such as your interests or why you want to join that instance. Some servers are small and only for a small handful of friends.

there are even a test that it can take to find which instance might be right for you.

The most popular instance is, which is also managed by the founder of the service. Larger instances mean that many of the best or shortest usernames have already been taken on the server. There is also a list of instances you can join at Mastodon’s website.

Unlike Twitter, many of the instances Mastodon runs on are not-for-profit, and some raise money for server costs and other expenses on sites like Patreon. Some instances may stop operating because their administrators lose interest.

All instances have a feed just for the people on that server that shows all the toots posted to that instance in chronological order. But you can also just look at your personalized feed, which shows only the notes of the people you follow; that’s the experience that’s most like Twitter.

Your username includes the name of your server

how to find friends

Mastodon may seem like a ghost town when you first log in, but there are a few ways to find your favorite old tweeters on the platform. Whether they post a lot is a different matter.

One of the easiest ways to find people to follow is to search for “Mastodon” on Twitter, where people who have created new accounts often post their new handles. Copy and paste it into the Mastodon search box to follow them.

Mastodon's home page is displayed on a handheld mobile phone screen.  It has been reported that more than 200,000 new users flocked to the social media app after Elon Musk took over Twitter.

Musk’s Twitter takeover sent thousands of people to Mastodon. This is what I found out using the app

You can also copy and paste your Mastodon handle, with @ symbol and domain, into your Twitter account so that your current followers try to join you.

exist multiple directories that list of interesting people to follow on Mastodon.

If you want to try to follow the same people on Mastodon as on Twitter, there are various third party applications that will try to import your watchlistalthough they require access to your Twitter account; Please note that you are giving that information to a third party.

start playing

It’s time to play. A first post that describes your interests or topics can help people find you.

Mastodon, much like Twitter in its early days, gives users the option of using different apps and interfaces to interact with toots and boosts.

Twitter migrants who miss TweetDeck, which displays multiple timelines on a desktop computer, should enable the Advanced web interface option in settings to display a denser interface with multiple columns.

There are also several apps for iPhones Y android devices that work regardless of the instance you are in. Mastodon’s core apps work fine, but there are plenty of alternative clients.

Be sure to look in your settings for features that aren’t available on Twitter, like auto-delete posts and powerful block and mute features. A sensitive content feature can hide NSFW rants or posts behind a button. The latest version of Mastodon, 4.0, includes new capabilities to follow hashtags, translate or edit posts, and additional content filters.

If you don’t like the instance you started on, it’s possible to export your account to another server.

Mastodon is not as easy to use as Twitter, nor does it have as many users generating content that will bring you back day after day. But its free and open source approach with thousands of different servers ensures that the platform cannot be bought for $44 billion.

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