Please get this right! Mastodon is not Twitter — actually a lot smarter and way more fun to use than Twitter or Facebook!
PCMag, your article is a great article and you write a lot of very interesting things about Mastodon. However, it’d be nice if you were to highlight that Mastodon is actually not the social media/social networking app most people are perhaps familiar with. It stands out as being a GNU Social Client with a distinction. Anyone can open an account in any GNU social instance and can connect to a Mastodon client, but Mastodon stands on its own.
From this perspective, any comparison between Twitter and Mastodon is flawed just because the client looks like an old version of Tweetdeck. Mastodon is far more powerful than Twitter for those who want to microblog. The letter count is officially restricted at 500, but this is at the discretion of the person who sets up the instance. Second, Twitter is centrally controlled, Mastodon is distributed, this makes it even more powerful, you can friend and follow anyone in the Fediverse — this is the federated universe of the GNU Social, which has been around for a very long time. Mastodon shares more commonality with IRC than Twitterverse.
In reality in many sense Mastodon is a lot simpler to use compared with Twitter and more feature rich. Actually, for basic usage, plain text, images (gifs, jpgs, mp4s), links (any link) can be easily shared using an omnibox type textbox. That textbox also offers you a lot of other choices as to with whom you want to share. All of these happen from one box of chunk of text — can you do that in Twitter? How simple it can be?
Mastodon does not have groups built in — but that does not matter, because (a) you can create your own instance — a full blown mastodon client and use it as your “group”, and that “group” can be connected to the entire fediverse. If that is not your thing, then set up an account in Quitter.se, or another service such as PostActiv, create groups, start posting and then “friend”/”follow” yourself on those instance in your specific Mastodon instance. In two steps you have a finely controlled group/non-group, everyone conversational space built in Mastodon.
Some other things that are missing from Mastodon compared with Twitter/Facebook:
- Celebrity ego posts
- “Cat” pictures and vanity posts (I guess you can but there will be few people to read and “like”)
- Trolls and Nazis polluting your timeline (similar to what happens in Medium — you cannot really have trolls/nazis in Medium because Medium makes every post your own post and you can kick out trolls)