- Zoe Kleinman
- BBC technology correspondent
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and Twitter users looking for alternative social platforms has been Mastadon (Mammoth).
What kind of platform is this?
According to the platform’s self-introduction, there are 655,000 existing users, of which 230,000 are new users who joined in the past week.
From the interface, Mammoth is very similar to Twitter — users post, and others can reply, like, retweet, and follow each other.
But under this interface, the reality is very different.
That’s why it attracts so many new users from Twitter, but many also confuse new sign-ups.
Mammoth, a social platform that has been around for six years, is now more active than ever, and the platform is struggling to cope with the weight of new entrants.
The BBC has put together a short guide for you to find the right way for you to use the platform.
Why are there so many servers?
When you sign up to use Mammoth, the first thing you do is choose a server. Servers have many themes, divided by country, city or interest, etc.: eg UK, society, technology, gaming…
It doesn’t really matter which server you’re on, as you can still follow all of the other servers’ users, but it does put you in a starter community where users are more likely to post something you’re interested in.
Some popular communities, such as Social and UK, are currently running very slowly due to the high demand.
Ryan Wilde is the manager of Mammoth’s UK servers, and he manages the operations of the UK servers through his company, Superior Networks. According to him, more than 6,000 new users signed up to join the platform in the past 24 hours, so new user registrations had to be suspended.
“I want to see what’s going on with so many people joining us,” he said.
“I got the server up at 10pm on a Friday night, and when I woke up the next morning, I didn’t know 1,000 people were going to come.”
How to find someone?
The server you choose becomes part of your username. For example, I use my current twitter account zsk, and select the UK server, then my Mammoth username is @[email protected] This is my address, you can find me by searching.
On the same server, you can search by just the person’s name, but on a different server, finding someone requires their full address.
Unlike Twitter, Mammoth doesn’t recommend people to follow that you might be interested in.
You can also search by tags.
Why are there servers everywhere?
This is a fairly complex question, and I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible.
Mammoths are not a complete platform. Nor is it an actual “thing” owned by a certain person or company. When all these different servers are connected together, a collective network is formed, but they are owned by different people and organizations.
This is called decentralization, and what fans of decentralized platforms love is precisely that, because the mammoths as a collective network cannot run as they please and cannot be bought or sold by a single entity.
However, the downside of this is that users are instead at the mercy of who or who runs the server on which they are running – if they decide to give up running the server, your account ceases to exist. However, Mammoth requires server owners to give users three months’ notice when they decide to shut down the server.
By the way, Jack Dorsey, the original founder of Twitter, is developing a new network called BlueSky. He has said that he wants the network to be decentralized as well.
How does Mammoth moderate content?
This is a real hot potato. Currently, all servers have their own content moderation policy, and some of them are not subject to moderation at all. Some servers choose not to link to servers full of bots, or other servers with a lot of hateful content. This means that users who intercept these content servers will not see such content. All postings can also be reported to the server owner.
If someone posts hate speech or illegal content, the server owner can remove that content, but that doesn’t mean it’s removed on all other servers.
If Mammoth continues to grow as a social platform, inappropriate content will be a huge problem.
There have been reports that some users have received a lot of hateful content, and BBC reporters have even seen homophobic remarks.
Are there ads?
No. While there are no ads, there are no rules preventing people from writing articles promoting a certain company or product.
Mammoth is also not as curated as Twitter to provide you with content that deepens the user experience based on how you browse.
You’ll usually see what your followers have to say right away when they leave a comment.
Is there a charge for mammoths?
It depends on which server you are on. Some servers ask for donations because they don’t get paid, but it’s basically free.