Mastodon: what is social network Twitter users are flocking to, how to join, is there an app, who owns it?

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The platform reported 230,000 new users last week alone

Twitter users have been leaving the social media network for Mastodon following Elon Musk’s takeover.

Musk, who is the richest person in the world, paid an eye-watering $44 billion for Twitter in a deal that was finalised on 27 October. Since it went through he has fired staff, suggested that users will have to pay for verification status and emphasised monetisation on the platform.

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Many users who are frustrated with the Tesla CEO’s changes have been flocking to the relatively small social media network Mastodon. The platform reported 230,000 new users last week alone.

Mastodon is not one platform, instead it is a collection of servers, with users able to sign up to ones based on their interests or hobbies.

So, what is the new social media network, how do you sign up and is there an app? Here’s everything you need to know about Mastodon.

Twitter users have been flocking to the social media network Mastodon (Pic: Getty Images)Twitter users have been flocking to the social media network Mastodon (Pic: Getty Images)
Twitter users have been flocking to the social media network Mastodon (Pic: Getty Images)

What is Mastodon?

Mastodon is a social media network that was created in 2016 by Eugen Rochko. The goal was to build a: “user-friendly microblogging product that would not belong to any central authority”.

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Mastodon is not one platform, instead it is a collection of servers, with users able to sign up to ones based on their interests or hobbies. Users don’t need to be on your server for you to be able to follow them.

Other than that, it is very similar to Twitter, tweets are called “toots” which can be liked or “boosted” which is effectively retweeting. Posts are prioritised by time they were shared, unlike Twitter, which will use its algorithm to show you posts it thinks you might want to see. Users can still include hashtags, tagging and photo and video uploads.

However one Mastodon feature has not been sitting well with Twitter users. Apparently if you mention someone in a direct message, the social network automatically connects them to the conversation which could get awkward.

How can you sign up?

Setting up an account on Mastodon is easy, all you have to do is sign up by clicking the “Get Started” link on their website. The app will then allow new users to choose what servers they would like to join, which can be based on their interests and hobbies such as music, gaming or technology.

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If you find a different server you like more, you can just simply move your profile over. The most popular server is, which boasts around 126,000 active users.

Mastodon has been around for six years and has a user base of around 600,000 active accounts. Finding friends from Twitter on the social media network is easy, many Twitter users who have an account will include the link in their Twitter bio or link it to their page. You can also find people who are moving to Mastodon by using the hashtag #TwitterMigration.

Why are people joining it after Elon Musk took over Twitter?

The Tesla CEO concluded his takeover of Twitter on 27 October. Users of the social media platform have been left frustrated by the world’s richest person after he announced he would start to charge a monthly fee for the blue tick authentication.

They have started to flock to the new social media platform, with Mastodon sharing on Twitter that: “The number of people who switched over to #Mastodon in the last week alone has surpassed 230 thousand”

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Is there an app?

Mastodon is available as an app and is free to download on Google Play and Apple Store.

Who owns Mastodon?

Mastodon was created by German software developed Eugen Rochko. Speaking to Time Magazine the 29-year-explained his reasons for creating the alternative social media network.

He said: “I was thinking that being able to express myself online to my friends through short messages was very important to me, important also to the world, and that maybe it should not be in the hands of a single corporation.”

He added: “I have been working very, very hard to push the idea that there is a better way to do social media than what the commercial companies like Twitter and Facebook allow.”

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What has the reaction been?

Mastodon has been trending on Twitter, with many users sharing tweets about the social media platform. Whilst some are seriously discussing the network or praising it, other posts are tongue-in-cheek.

One Twitter user shared an image from the apocalyptic film The Road, alongside the caption “ ‘Where we going, dad?’ ‘Mastodon’”

Another user shared a positive experience after using Mastodon for a week explaining it was: “changing my perspective of social media”.

Whilst the author and journalist Caitlin Moran said: “I’m thinking of setting up a “Spirit of Twitter 2011” server: somewhere lovely, silly, fun ...”

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And the comedian Kirsty Webeck described it as having: “the same vibe as leaving a party to go to another party and the new party is no good and you wish you’d stayed at the old party.”

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