[LINK] EU Joins Mastodon

sylvano sylvano at gnomon.com.au
Sun Nov 20 18:53:56 AEDT 2022

Quite a few more people have joined the EU onto Mastodon since late

Or, like me, many have dusted off accounts created back in the



<<Thousands are flocking to Mastodon in what users are calling a
#TwitterMigration. What is it and how does the 'rival platform' work?>>

By Angelica Silva

On Fri, 2022-04-29 at 12:47 +0000, Stephen Loosley wrote:
> Mastodon
> Mastodon is more than just a nicer Twitter. It's an experiment in
> large-scale, open-source, distributed social networking. It's no
> online utopia, but it is an exciting development for the open web.
> By  Max Eddy  https://au.pcmag.com/social-media/47483/mastodon
> Mastodon is more than just a nicer Twitter. It's an experiment in
> large-scale, open-source, distributed social networking. It's no
> online utopia, but it is an exciting development for the open web.
> No fees, no ads, no data mining.
> Unique, federated design.
> Tweetdeck-like web experience.
> Personal, global, and local feeds.
> Powerful privacy tools.
> Open-source.
> Zero documentation or guidance for new users.
> Few mature clients.
> Distributed design makes sign-up, user verification difficult.
> Facebook and Twitter have defined a generation of the web, but free
> and open-source services like Ello and diaspora* have sought to
> provide an alternative.   Mastodon is the latest contender.
> Named in honor of the progressive metal band, it's an open-source,
> radically anticapitalist, and surprisingly mature Twitter-style
> platform that emphasizes openness and uses a distributed, federated
> platform.
> Unfortunately, some of its best features (ever heard of "federation"
> outside the realm of Star Trek before today?) are confusing to
> newcomers, and it certainly won't eclipse other platforms anytime
> soon. It is a radical vision that suggests a different kind of
> internet—one that, perhaps, will gain converts.
> Like Twitter, but…
> Remember the term "microblogging?" Probably not. It was meant to be
> the general category to describe Twitter, referring to Twitter's
> pithy, character-limit-enforced brevity. Considering that no other
> microblogging service has risen to prominence, the term has as much
> semantic weight as several feathers. But, in as much as anything can
> be a microblogging service, Mastodon is one.
> MastodonInstead of Twitter's 140 characters, however, Mastodon offers
> you 500. After spending nearly a decade learning to cram complex
> thoughts into tweets, 500 characters is almost overwhelming. Most of
> the time, I don't come close to the character limit. But it is easier
> to express a complete, nuanced thought, without resorting to
> tweetstorms.
> Speaking of tweets, a note on terminology: On Mastodon, individual
> posts are called "toots" (not "tweets") and reposting someone else's
> toot is "boosting" (not "retweeting"). In a jab at Twitter's decision
> to replace the favoriting star with a heart, Mastodon uses a star, so
> you can show your appreciation for a toot. I've been using Mastodon
> for four months, and I still think "toots" sounds hilarious.
> In most other respects, Mastodon is very much like Twitter. You
> follow other users to have their toots flow into your feed. You can
> respond to a toot and message other users publicly with an @ reply.
> Placing a hashtag (#) in front of a word creates an ad-hoc category
> that you can click on to find all other instances of that hashtag.
> These are features that Twitter users take for granted, but that
> actually didn't launch with the service. Being designed from the
> ground up in a post-Twitter world means that Mastodon's creator can
> deliver a product that benefits from Twitter's years of evolution.
> Some features from Twitter haven't made it to Mastodon. Polls, quote-
> tweets, and analytics are just a dream. While you can view a toot and
> its responses at a static URL, just like on Twitter, it's harder to
> take action outside the web-based Mastodon client. Boosting and
> faving, for example, are difficult from a toot's static webpage.
> Searching, too, is difficult. I spent an hour searching through a
> timeline for a specific toot. Mastodon is surprisingly smooth and
> robust for a homebrew project, but the cracks show in cases like
> this.
> Behind the Toots
> What really sets Mastodon apart isn't the toots or the boosts, it's
> the code. Mastodon is an open-source project, the code being freely
> available on GitHub. This means that Mastodon benefits from
> transparency, with volunteers working to add new features and
> watching out for potential problems. It's built on the open GNU
> Social protocol, making it potentially interoperable with other GNU
> Social-based services. Your tweets and Facebook posts are bound to
> those respective platforms, but GNU Social has the potential to be
> infinitely more flexible. However, that potential hasn't been fully
> realized on Mastodon.
> Being open-source means Mastodon has a fundamentally different
> ideology than most social media services. Mastodon is intended to be
> free and ad-free forever. Its creator has written that this lets the
> people working on Mastodon focus on making it better for users,
> without having to bow to Mammon. There's no data mining, no ads, and
> no rejiggering your timeline to show you promoted material.
> Twitter and Facebook, by contrast, have made major changes to their
> service that were great business decisions but weren't designed to
> help the user. For example, both services use algorithmically ordered
> feeds by default (you can deactivate this feature on both) instead of
> chronologically ordered feeds. Twitter and Facebook say this helps
> surface the most interesting content, but it also allows for ads and
> promoted posts to be pushed to you. As a free, not-for-profit
> platform that can be tweaked by anyone with the knowledge to do so,
> these kinds of changes are unlikely if not actually impossible in
> Mastodon.
> Mastodon also isn't a monolithic, single service like Twitter or
> Facebook. Instead, it's distributed. Volunteers install copies of the
> Mastodon software on servers they operate. These are called Mastodon
> instances, and they all work together as a federation. It's similar
> to the much-hyped, little-used diaspora* platform. You can join any
> instance and still be able to communicate with any other Mastodon
> user, regardless of the instance they're on. I should note that the
> Mastodon community has generated some pretty wonderfully named
> instances.
> Mastodon
> Think of it like email. There are lots of places that let you create
> an email account, but you can send email to, and receive email from,
> anyone. An Outlook.com email account can talk to a Gmail account, and
> so on. It's a simple concept, but one that doesn't really jibe with
> the popular understanding of social networks.
> The Mastodon.social instance, for example, is the flagship instance
> of the service. It's currently closed to new sign-ups, meaning that
> users have to find another instance to join. This is a high bar for
> entry, made worse by the sheer dearth of explanatory documentation.
> One of the interesting benefits of a distributed network is that no
> single operator bears the brunt of hosting all Mastodon users.
> Instead, the computing requirements are handled by each individual
> instance. That's allowed Mastodon to remain mostly operable, even
> after experiencing a massive spike in popularity.
> The confusion about where Mastodon "is" is only compounded by
> usernames. If you and another person are on the same instance, you
> can @ reply them as you would on Twitter. If that person is on a
> different instance, you have to include the username and instance. So
> @maxeddy becomes @maxeddy at mastodon.social. With the email analogy in
> mind, this doesn't seem so strange but, again, it's sure to be
> confusing to anyone more familiar with Twitter. Mastodon does
> autocomplete usernames, but it helps to know a user's instance.
> This raises the issue of verification. Is @maxeddy at mastodon.social
> the real Max Eddy? What about @maxeddy at mac.tonight.biz? The blue
> verified checkmark on Twitter might be an artificial tool of class
> construction (and probably data mining), but it also helps ensure
> you're talking to the right person. And, more importantly, that the
> wrong person can't easily pretend to be you. Without a rock-solid
> method of verification, Mastodon isn't likely to attract the
> celebrity interest that drove the early adoption of Twitter. But that
> seems to suit Mastodon just fine.
> Behold, the Mammoth
> Most of my time testing I was Mastodon I did so via its web
> interface, which I used on a MacBook Air running Google's Chrome
> browser. Because it's web based, you can access it on virtually any
> device. As long as there's a web browser, you're good to go.
> There are a handful of mobile clients available for Mastodon, Tusky
> for Android and Amaraoq for iPhone being the most notable. None of
> these third-party clients have brought anything new to the table,
> however. There are also no desktop clients as of this writing. While
> that's frustrating in the short term, one of my big complaints about
> Twitter was how it virtually destroyed its third-party developer
> community. That seems unlikely to be the case with Mastodon.
> When you log into the Mastodon instance you call home, you see four
> vertical columns. The layout is very similar to Tweetdeck, a piece of
> software whose interface I frankly loathe. Still, it gets the job
> done, and Mastodon's take is easy on the eyes using flatter colors
> than Tweetdeck. That's more than I could say about Ello. While the
> Mastodon interface resembles Tweetdeck, it only lets you manage one
> account. If you want to toot from another instance, you need to log
> in there, too.
> Note that some instances might be tweaked to look different or use
> different icons. One admin I follow on Mastodon replaced the Toot
> button with a Florps button. And so it was law—at least on that
> instance.
> The far-left column has a text box where you can compose your 500-
> character toots. There are buttons for adding emoji, hiding text
> behind a content warning (more on this later), and adding pictures.
> This last feature was the only one that gave me trouble, as Mastodon
> appears to use some image compression on large images that noticably
> distorts colors. I only had this problem for one of the images I
> uploaded, however.
> A Globe button lets you choose the level of visibility of your toot,
> ranging from Public on all instances to Private, which hides your
> message except for the specific users you designate. You can also
> lock a post to only be visible to your followers, or set it to not
> appear on any public timeline. This is more of a Facebook-style tool,
> and offers far more flexibility than Twitter, which is all-or-nothing 
> when it comes to tweet visibility.
> Mastodon
> Moving toward the right, the next column is the Home section, which
> shows toots from users you've followed. The next column shows
> Notifications. Settings tabs at the top of these columns let you
> change how they function. One noticeable option is the ability to
> shut off boosts and replies from appearing in your Home feed. Twitter
> lets you suppress user's retweets, but you have to adjust those
> settings on the user page for that Twitter user. Mastodon takes that
> power and gives it back to the people.
> The far-right panel is a multiuse space, with shortcuts to toots
> you've favorited, a list of users you've blocked, and your account
> settings. It also lets you view your Local timeline and the Federated
> timeline. The Local timeline shows toots on your particular instance,
> sort of like the neighborhood news. The Federated timeline is the
> Mastodon fire hose. It's everything.
> This distinction between the Home timeline of people you follow, the
> Local timeline, and the Federated timeline make Mastodon instances
> all the more important. You and your friends or local community could
> create your own instance and it would be your Local timeline. You'd
> still be connected to the rest of Mastodon through the Federated
> timeline, and could follow any Mastodon user in any instance and have
> their toots appear in your home feed. It's a completely unique
> experience, and one I am still trying to wrap my head around after
> using Mastodon for some time.
> So far, Mastodon doesn't talk with Twitter. You won't have an easy
> time finding tweeting friends who have jumped to Mastodon, although
> there are third-party tools that can help. That said, I've taken some
> real pleasure in browsing through the local and federated feeds,
> talking (politely!) with randos, and feeling out the Mastodon
> experience. It's new territory, and there's a real sense of
> excitement exploring it.
> Also missing are some of the fringe services found on the established
> social networks. There's nothing like Periscope or the excellent
> Facebook Messenger. Mastodon comes close to providing an experience
> similar to Twitter's Direct Message groups, but it's not as robust.
> That's not necessarily a problem for Mastodon users. You could, for
> example, delete your Facebook account and continue to use Messenger
> quite happily. Then again, the kind of person attracted to Mastodon
> in the first place seems more likely to be a Signal user.
> Hell Is Other People
> Mastodon launched quietly about a year ago, but exploded in recent
> weeks after being hailed as a new haven from the abuse and Nazi egg
> accounts that have come to define modern Twitter. But I'm quick to
> caution anyone who sees Mastodon as "like Twitter, but for not-awful
> people." There's nothing about Mastodon, aside from its comparably
> low user base, that makes it resistant to the siren song of internet
> bullshit. Even as I saw new users embrace the platform this past week
> and make their inaugural toots, I also saw some of the same
> combative, angry, vitriol that's on Twitter or Facebook these days.
> The problem, in a word, is people. But there are a few things about
> Mastodon that might counteract some of the acid in modern electronic
> discourse. Mastodon's developer Eugen Rochko wrote on Medium:
> "Very early on in the development of Mastodon I've decided that
> centralization and unexpected algorithmic changes were not the only
> one of Twitter's problems. Harassment and tools to deal with it have
> always been lacking on Twitter's end."
> When you block someone on Mastodon, you don't see their posts under
> any circumstances. Not when they message you, not when someone you
> follow (and haven't blocked) mentions them, not when their messages
> are boosted into your timeline. You can also mute users or words, if
> you simply want to see less of them.
> Mastodon
> Mastodon also comes with a Content Warning tool. Click it, and your
> toot will be hidden behind an opaque block that other users must
> click before your message appears. You can customize the text that
> appears over the block, so you can post a trigger warning, set up a
> punchline, or warn people against spoilers. It's a flexible tool, and
> one that seems to have been embraced by Mastodon's early settlers.
> Because there's no monolithic structure to Mastodon, the
> administrators of instances can take action against other instances.
> An admin could block an entire instance, for example, if it became
> the source of too much strife for users. Still, all of this requires
> active participation from communities of users and admins, which is
> quite different from the rather passive experience of using Facebook
> or Twitter. No one said Utopias came easily.
> Building a Better Web
> The limitations of Mastodon are undeniable. It's unlikely to get
> celebrity interest, and, given that one of the most popular Mastodon
> instances is called Marxism.party, it's unlikely to gain traction
> among brands and advertisers. Its federated nature means that it's
> hard for people used to the "big room" feel of Facebook and Twitter
> to understand, or even sign up. It's in desperate need of onboarding
> materials.
> But some of those limitations come from its greatest strengths. Being
> federated means that the service has scaled surprisingly well, and it
> affords users the opportunity to create real digital communities, as
> well as create and enforce different rules on different instances.
> Open-source projects don't make money, but they do attract motivated
> volunteers. Mastodon has already revved in the course of my review,
> and it offers surprisingly mature features for a homebrew service.
> There's also an important sense of buy-in with Mastodon. People are
> coming to the service not to recreate what they have on Twitter or
> Facebook, but to try and build something different. Maybe it's the
> powerful blocking and banning tools, maybe it's the sense of
> community fostered by individual instances and an emphasis on users
> owning their own identity and their data. Or maybe it's testing the
> limits of dank memes presented in 500 characters. Mastodon isn't
> going to replace Twitter any time soon, but it presents a vision of
> what a free, not-for-profit, people-powered social network can look
> like. It may not be as busy as Twitter, but I'm rather smitten with
> it.
> --
> Note, Yesterday:  
> https://au.pcmag.com/social-media/93757/eu-joins-mastodon-social-network-sets-up-its-own-server
> The European Union is the latest group to join the social network
> Mastodon, which has seen a surge of new users after Elon Musk's bid
> for Twitter was accepted.
> On Thursday, the European Commission said it had set up its own
> server, dubbed EU Voice, to join Mastodon's decentralized social
> network, also known as a "Fediverse."
> Follow us at: social.network.europa.eu/@EU_Commission<mailto:
> social.network.europa.eu/@EU_Commission>
> The effort is currently only a pilot, but it represents the EU’s goal
> of supporting private and open-source software capable of rivaling
> mainstream social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and
> YouTube. On the same day, the European Commission also launched an
> account for PeerTube, another decentralized platform that revolves
> around video sharing.
> “With the pilot launch of EU Voice and EU Video, we aim to offer
> alternative social media platforms that prioritize individuals and
> their rights to privacy and data protection," said European Data
> Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski.
> “In concrete terms this means, for example, that EU Voice and EU
> Video do not rely on transfers of personal data to countries outside
> the European Union and the European Economic Area; there are no
> advertisements on the platforms; and there is no profiling of
> individuals that may use the platforms,” he added. “These measures,
> amongst others, give individuals the choice on and control over how
> their personal data is used.”
> The news could help boost visibility for Mastodon, which hopes to
> become a viable Twitter alternative. On Thursday, Mastodon founder
> Eugen Rochko reported that the decentralized social network had
> “gained 112,413 monthly active users in the last few days” after Musk
> announced his takeover of Twitter.
> Mastodon has 384,000 monthly active users, Rochko added, which pales
> in comparison to Twitter's 229 million daily active users, about 40
> million of whom are based in the US.
> For now, the EU says its Mastodon server as a way for EU institutions
> and agencies to share news. It'll also solicit feedback on Mastodon
> and PeerTube, and says it "hopes that this first step will mark a
> continuity in the use of privacy-compliant social media platforms."
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