I have recently been using a microblogging platform called Mastodon.
Similar to how blogging is the act of publishing updates to a website, microblogging is the act of publishing small updates to a stream of updates on your profile. You can publish text posts and optionally attach media such as pictures, audio, video, or polls. Mastodon lets you follow friends and discover new ones.
Those of you who are familiar with Twitter will immediately recognise the format.
Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is not a centralised platform owned by a single company. It does not serve up any adds, and it has no algorithm to manipulate your feed.
You choose who you want to follow, how much of their stuff you would like to see, and which particular server group (known as an instance) you wish to join.
There are many instances you can select from based on location or interest, for example (in that respect they are sort of like Facebook groups). And if you are not happy with the way one is moderated, you can simply migrate to another one (or create your own).
Mastodon has been around since 2016 but since the recent Twitter takeover bid by Elon Musk it has been getting a lot more attention (and users).
Here is a quick video overview (pardon the cheezy music):
The one big issue with Mastodon, as with most alternatives to the big social media cartels, is that there really isn’t enough people using it (yet).
Mastodon claims to have 4.4M users at the moment.
And that may be so. But when it comes to finding people and conversations that interest you…..you are going to find it a LOT more quiet than Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.
Nevertheless, the concept of a de-centralised platform, run by users, without adds or algorithms really appeals to me.
I think it has a lot of potential.
So much so, that I intend to remain active on it as my only social media platform, apart from this website (of course).
All I can do is encourage those of you who are active on Twitter (or Facebook etc) to take Mastodon for a spin and encourage your family and friends to do likewise so you are not too lonely there.
If you like you can stay with your social media platform of choice but consider ALSO building a presence on Mastodon (cross posting). Once there are enough users and comminity groups active there, things will naturally snowball and the platform will become much more utilitarian.
It is a really helpful way to snatch the World Wide Web back from the mega-corporations, and rebuild empowered open communications.