Despite launching six years ago, Mastodon has been fairly unknown compared to mainstream social-media platforms.
But, in the past week, its user numbers have grown by 230,000, with the social-media network now estimating that it has 655,000 users.
So what is Mastodon, and could it really be an alternative to Twitter?
What is Mastodon?
Mastodon is a decentralised social-media network made up of different interconnected servers.
Unlike social-media platforms like Twitter or Facebook, it is not owned or controlled by one single person or company.
Instead, each of the servers has a moderator, which is usually a person, company, or organisation.
The servers are centred around location or interest, so users can join a server based on where they live or a topic they are interested in.
Once a new user has joined a server, the server’s name will be a part of their username and posts from other members on their server will make up their feed.
However, users can follow members from other servers, too.
Mastodon users can post messages to their followers and other members on their server.
Each server is run differently. For example, they have different moderation rules, so some servers may see more hateful content than others. Additionally, some server moderators ask their members for donations, as they are not paid by Mastodon.
Andrew Williams wrote for the Evening Standard that Mastodon “is going to feel a lot less busy than Twitter; it is less of a place to pick up social-media clout than it is to connect with people who have similar interests.”