If you are in a hurry, here is the minimal amount of information you need to move from Twitter to Mastodon:
- Find a server you like
- Create an account
- Follow people you like
Ready and go!
The longer story
Mastodon is not Twitter and will never be. However both Mastodon and Twitter are social media networks. Mastodon however is decentralised.
Decentralised Social Media
What does that mean, decentralised? It means anyone can run a Mastodon server and connect to everyone else. This is very much how the Internet was designed: a place of many systems that talk to each other.
Twitter on the other side is a centralised solution. All data and communication is hosted by Twitter. If Twitter is going down, everyone is affected.
Mastodon on the other hand is much more robust. You can and have to choose a Mastodon instance that you like.
Which Mastodon instance to use?
There are plenty of instances around and you can choose the one you trust most or your friends are on. There are various lists of Mastodon instances, such as the one at joinmastodon.org or at instances.social (thanks to @AltoidLover@tech.lgbt for the pointer).
Or, you can even run your own Mastodon instance.
Your own Mastodon instance
Why would you want to run your own Mastodon instance in the first place? Let's take a few steps back, to understand the fundamental difference between Twitter and the Fediverse. The Fedi-what?
We so far said Mastodon everywhere, but in reality, Mastodon is just one software that allows you to communicate decentralised. In general, we refer to the decentralised communication as the "FEDIVERSE". That's settled, now let's go back to why anyone would want to run their own instance.
First of all, running your own mastodon instance allows you to use your own, custom domain. So my handle is @firstname.lastname@example.org and it indicates I am somewhat interested in #IPv6 related topics, just from the domain of the instance I am on.
If you already have a domain, many people also choose to use the subdomain "social", like social.example.com.
There is a second, maybe equally significant point when it comes to Mastodon. That is the question of who is going to take care of the instance, who is going to update the software and who is actually going to pay for running the instance?
In the fediverse, you are not a product
Compared to Twitter, where advertisement turns the user into a product, in the fediverse you are not a product. That also means that the organisation running a Mastodon instance does actually need to pay for the service. Whether that is running a VPS, running a Raspberry PI or having it hosted by someone else, somebody has to provide the resource for it.
This is fundamentally different compared to Twitter, but also Facebook, where you are basically also just a product.
The big advantage of this is that there is no advertisement, no central user analytics, but much more freedom. Like we say in Switzerland, you Khasch nit z'Füferli und z Weggli ha or in proper English: you cannot have everything. And that's a good thing.
Importing Twitter Followers into the Fediverse
You might have noticed that more and more Twitter accounts add their fediverse handle like @email@example.com to their Twitter handle. There is a nifty tool available that scans your account for the handles and imports them on the fediverse site for you. It is called Debirdify and it's a good start to get a list of people to follow. Debirdify can actually scan your followers and the ones you follow, too.
If you interested in reading Is there more about moving from Twitter to Mastodon, there are other articles you might be interested in, like:
- A beginner’s guide to Mastodon, the open source Twitter alternative (techcrunch)
- How-To Mastodon (Tobru, covers Swiss specific aspects) (thanks for @firstname.lastname@example.org for the pointer)
Mastodon Hosting by ungleich
Shameless plug at the end - we have just launched Mastodon hosting by ungleich to provide you an easy way to start in the fediverse. Remember, you don't have to go with us, but the beauty of the fediverse is you can host your own, use somebody else's server or use a hosted Mastodon instance.
P.S.: A Post Twitter World
Twitter might not yet be done and even at ungleich we have a lot of references to our Twitter account. We don't know whether everyone will move to the fediverse, but we very much welcome a push towards decentralisation of the Internet.
For many years, probably about a decade or two, we have become more and more reliant on centralised services. These services might have made our lives easier, but also much more dependent on a few organisations.
It is a good thing to review what we are using from time to time and today we are looking stronger at Twitter - tomorrow we might consider a different search engine - who knows?
I am looking forward to hearing you in the fediverse and if you have any comment, do not hesitate to reach out to @email@example.com.