Moving to Mastodon

Credit: Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

I have mixed feelings about moving to Mastodon. Opening an account isn’t easy and I don’t want to leave Twitter. But with Twitter possibly about to fold, I’ve been worried about losing the networks I’ve been building. So this is about moving Mastodon without quite going.

First of all, thank you Elon Musk.

Following in the footsteps of our recent prime minister, Liz Truss, and the Chancellor, Kwasi Karteng, you’ve well and truly busted two of my least favourite myths:

  1. that the best most talented people are in the top jobs.
  2. that the wealthy deserve every penny because they’re uniquely gifted.

I’m truly grateful for your massive fail!

After only two or three weeks of being Twitter’s biggest shareholder, you’ve hollowed it out, made it insecure and caused a mass virtual exodus. I was reluctant to move at first, and I’m still there for the time being. It’s hard to wean myself off the fun I’ve had on Twitter with historians and writers.

But when the news came of your ultimatum, which doesn’t exactly illustrate leadership at its finest, I decided to open a Mastodon account.

Choosing a Mastodon server or ‘instance’

First you have to choose a Mastodon server. There are loads and some people call them ‘instances’. (I don’t know why.) So how to you pick one? 

Luckily for me, in the early noughties I bagged myself a geeky boyfriend who I had the good sense to marry. But if you haven’t been so wise or fortunate, then just remember…

Security is the most important thing!

Bear in mind that Mastodon servers or instances are run by communities, which may seem a bit daunting when it comes to security. However – even though corporate social media platforms use moderators and (recently sacked) security professionals – they haven’t made social media safer, have they?

On Mastodon, you need to check the ‘server rules’ and ‘moderated server’ headings, to get the vibe of how secure your instance or server is.

Dropdowns you should look out to check security when moving to Mastodon
Dropdowns you should look out to check security when moving to Mastodon

You can switch later. So it’s not the end of the world if you pick one that’s not an ideal fit. But you do want to prioritise security.

If you’re in Europe, go for a server that’s based in Europe to stay on the good side of GDPR. European servers have to comply with GDPR.

Writers moving to Mastodon

Once you’re on a server, you’re not limited to only following those on the same server. I was a little disappointed to find ‘writers exchange’ almost five minutes after I set up my account. But when I looked I saw it specifes not promoting work. In fact many on Mastodon have posted that writers shouldn’t come on just to promote their books.

I love connecting with other writers, indie publishers and historians but I want to see their work and I want to publicise my work, including this blog. So this is a bit of a worry to me and I’m not sure how long I’ll stay or how much time I’ll spend on Mastodon.

Advice on moving to Mastodon

Luckily there are loads of resources explaining how to set up your profile, what Mastodon is and what some of the alternatives might be.

Many of us are on more than one platform already. So if you’re reading this, please follow me on Facebook or Instagram. (I’ve just found a very old account with a bunch of followers I don’t recognise and a few I do.)

And while Twitter breathes its last, it’s worth adding links to any of your other social media accounts to your Twitter profile.

Early experience of Mastodon

Five minutes after I first post on Mastodon, I feel welcomed. There’s a #Tootfic hashtag and lovely people are posting tips on what to do. I’d like to quote one user, Andrew, who sums up the different vibe.

“Twitter was a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of employees. Mastodon is a niche hobbyist product run by volunteers. The fact that we’re being seen as a viable alternative to them is an admission that a federated, decentralized future is not only possible, but desirable….

“We’re wrestling power away from the billionaire class, in real time, and reclaiming it for the People.”

 Yeah! Up yours Elon!