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All you need to know about Mastodon

Mastodon is free and open-source software for running self-hosted social networking services. It is the largest decentralized social networking service on the internet.

It was released 6 years ago on March 16, 2016. Eugen Rochko is the CEO and the only employee of the nonprofit organization Mastodon gGmbH, headquartered in Berlin, Germany.

The new social service is programmed in Javascript and the stable version was released on November 15th after the electric car maker, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk bought the social networking and micro-blogging platform Twitter of which Mastodon is highly inspired, on October 28th for 44 billion dollars.

The source code of the self-hosted social networking service is available on its GitHub repository and it is open to contributors. As of now, there are 700+ contributors on Mastodon’s repository.

The service uses Ruby on Rails for the REST API, React.js and Redux are used for the dynamic parts of the interface, Node.js powers the streaming API, and the software used for the Database is PostgreSQL. The service is hosted on Docker. Mastodon is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

The Mastodon communities are hosted on separate servers by the owner of the community. The servers can interact with the main Mastodon servers. For example, Just like there are several subreddits on Reddit for SEO, News, Memes etc. but they are hosted on Reddit’s servers and are just maintained by the moderators of the individual servers, Mastodon has several communities which are hosted on separate servers and can be explored through the main Mastodon app. The content of the other servers can be accessed and read by the user in Mastodon’s Explore tab.

Mastodon expands the functionality of the micro-blogging platform as the word limit for posts on the platform is 500 words while its competitor Twitter has a word limit of 280 words.

Users join a specific Mastodon server, rather than a single website or application. The servers are connected as nodes in a network, and each server can administrate its own rules, account privileges, and whether to share messages to and from other servers. Many servers have a theme based on a specific interest.

As of 12 November 2022, there are a total of 6.63 million accounts in all Mastodon instances. The spike in Mastodon’s users came when billionaire Elon Musk announced the Twitter acquisition. Mastodon experienced an increase of 70,000 new users from the resultant diaspora on 28 October alone. Mastodon’s user spike has continued in the days following the Twitter takeover. On November 11, the number of new users of the platform compared to the previous week was reported to be 700,000.

CEO Eugen tooted the platform hit over a million users on November 7.
“Hey, so, we’ve hit 1,028,362 monthly active users across the network today. 1,124 new Mastodon servers since Oct 27, and 489,003 new users. That’s pretty cool.” The number of active users on Mastodon is increasing every day.

Posts on Mastodon are known as ‘toots’ like on Twitter they are known as ‘tweets’. CEO Eugen Rochko said in a post (actually toot) the original button was called ‘publish’, but a committed supporter promised lifetime support of the Mastodon Patreon account if he would change it to “toot.”

The platform is completely free and does not shows any ads or charge any fee for subscription. It is supported by the users through Patreon and Open Collective.

The main reason people love Mastodon is it is decentralized which means no single company or authority controls it rather it is run by its contributors.

The story is edited by Mayank Vikash with input from the sources.