Review: Mastodon Decentralizes Social Media

Elon Musk’s shambolic takeover may not have been great for Twitter, but it was fantastic for Mastodon, a social media platform that saw usership skyrocket in response.

Mastodon is not a single site. Instead, it’s a collection of “federated” independent servers, each centered around a topic: anarchism, food, etc. In practice it’s like a mix of Reddit and Twitter, but less centralized. Decentralization is in fact Mastodon’s big selling point: You don’t have to worry about a San Francisco tech executive monkeying with your server.

I considered joining a metal or gaming server, but I knew where I belonged and what I deserved, so I joined one for reporters. It’s easy to post and browse on Mastodon, and it’s devoid of Twitter’s late-life bloat. It’s quiet, though, and it’s still unclear whether Mastodon’s growth will achieve exit velocity or come back down to earth.

Whether it rises or falls, Mastodon’s existence is a reminder—for all the bipartisan caterwauling about the need for government to rein in Big Tech’s supposed monopoly—that social media users can and do vote with their feet.

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