We now have our own Mastodon server at https://mastodon.researchinstitute.at.
What is Mastodon?
Mastodon is a social media platform that is part of the so-called Fediverse. The Fediverse is a network of federated, independent social networks and offers alternatives to commercial platforms.
Peertube is a platform for video hosting (similar to YouTube). PixelFed specialises in posting images and could be compared to Instagram. And Mastodon is most comparable to Twitter, although there are big differences.
There are even more platforms in the Fediverse, but what these platforms have in common is that they are all linked to each other so that content from one platform can be easily found and shared on the others. You can find a detailed overview of other platforms here: https://digitalcourage.de/digitale-selbstverteidigung/fediverse
Differences between Mastodon and Twitter
Posts can be edited on Mastodon. It is possible not only to create image descriptions, but also to simply scan photos of texts using OCR (optical character recognition) and create alt texts automatically.
There are no algorithmic recommendations, so posts are displayed in the order in which they are posted. Content Descriptions allow long texts or controversial topics, spoilers or similar to be shared collapsed and only need to be collapsed manually (this setting can also be changed personally). If an image is labelled with a NSFW (not safe for work) warning, it will be blurred out by default.
Decentralisation as a key point
The entire network is completely decentralised, so content moderation is not outsourced, but is the responsibility of each instance itself. This instance can also specify rules for posting content. For example, the majority of instances block anti-Semitic or right-wing extremist instances, or those that do not take data protection or youth protection seriously.
Another important built-in feature is the option to move to a new server with all of your followers. The previous postings are unfortunately not easily transferable, at least not yet, but can be downloaded.
Especially in these times it is important for us to be part of an independent network of tracking-free instances.
P.S.: If you miss your Twitter followers, there are tools and instructions to easily find them again on Mastodon. https://futurezone.at/produkte/twitter-follower-following-freunde-mastodon-fedifinder-debirdify/402221424