Web3 on Leofinance
Web3 on Leofinance

What is Mastodon? - Everything you need to know


By Nerly Shammah Nov 22, 2022





The larger the Internet grows, the larger the social needs, thus, the entire Web3 concept and decentralization are based on literal human-centric needs, the demand for a system that throws censorship and centralization out the window and in exchange, serves total ownership and freedom is what is perceived as the future foundation of social networks. 


This is an introductory coverage of Mastodon and will be touching on critical areas that are worth paying attention to. 


What Is Mastodon? 


Mastodon is simply an open-source software that allows individuals to seamlessly interconnect and intercommunicate between different servers in operations - these servers can be likened to Facebook communities but with a slight difference. 


Mastodon servers are what is called a "federated universe" or simply "Fediverse", this concept conceives an idea of broadly spread social networking which at the same time allows interoperability. Mastodon, in its wholesome glory, is often described as a "decentralized social network software" but it's in fact a "distributed social network". 


How? Let's dig deep


Decentralized means not centrally controlled, while Distributed simply is an act of delegating power to different people or networks, in which, Mastodon fits into this definition given that "authority" is given to "servers", thus the ability to control the social experience is distributed. So in our humble opinion after close observations, Mastodon is distributed but not decentralized because "rules" are in place and censorship comes into play if violated. 


We can liken the system to private blockchains, whereas despite being "distributed" as in "blockchain" yet it is still centralized. 




The nonprofit’s CEO, Eugen Rochko, 29, started working on Mastodon (which he named for the American heavy metal band) in 2016 while he was studying at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany. As a heavy Twitter user, he began noticing changes that troubled him. “I was growing dissatisfied with Twitter, the company, and the platform,” Rochko tells Forbes. “It made me realize that the method of expressing myself online was too important to be in the hands of a single corporation that could do anything with it that it wanted without any recourse. - Forbes



This suggests that Mastodon is an attempt to "decentralize and discard censorship" of social networking, but it in fact does the same on some levels, maybe even far more than Twitter?


The first thing we need to understand is that Mastodon is not a blockchain, on this note, it lacks the ground features of what decentralized networks should have and certainly is not geared for Web3! The second is that it lacks "incentivization", which is not a broad topic amongst industry users or crypto enthusiasts but it is a layer of security and sustainability for social networks with decentralization goals, more on that later. 




But most specifically, Mastodon and its nature of federated networks solve a few of Twitter's flaws, by successfully removing "control" from a single entity but sadly giving it to more "capable" entities.


This brings the question:


Is Mastodon decentralized? 


No, Mastodon is far from decentralized and sadly most sources claim it is. The benefits of Mastodon, when compared to Twitter, are pretty obvious, "communities" were always a needed feature to curb "toxicity" on the platform. Still, decentralization and censorship were not solved in the process. 


Consider this, Mastodon currently lacks a "base network" that connects "all" available servers(regardless of their practices), which means that "shadow banning" is still heavily implemented by individual servers who don't agree to the operations of other servers. In the cryptocurrency space, this could be debated on the notes of acceptance, given that they are "layer 2" deployments, but since the ecosystem lacks a layer 1 that does not restrict access to any server content, at least, just to view, it is proven to be exposed to grand size censorship.


Individual servers have rules, these are things the base layer network should lack(this is where freedom and free speech comes in), with this, we can all reflect back to the Twitter acquisition and noise, Elon Musk claimed to have bought the platform to enforce free speech, but that is something that comes with a cost, that can not(or should not at least) be tackled from a "central authority" but rather, be curb via community efforts. 


Several industry comments have rolled in since and some have spoken about how the waves of conflicts are part of free speech and how no "centrally" managed platform cannot handle that. 


Similarly, industry comments have highlighted centralization concerns of Mastodon, given the nature of its servers and rules. Rules are meant for centralized systems, this is why Mastodon as the base software matters little to the servers utilized by individuals and thus, is exposed to censorship.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 


Who Is The Founder of Mastodon?


Eugen Rochko is the founder of Mastodon. Eugen Rochko is a Russian-born German software developer, who developed Mastodon out of his distaste for the evolution of Twitter. 


Can your Mastodon account be deleted or suspended? 


Yes, this is certain and can be a result of the violation of server rules. Each server has a set of dos and don'ts that each participant must adhere to or risk being reported for judgment. This makes it just as similar to Twitter as Elon Musk has the full power to suspend any account he deems fit, Mastodon servers can do the same and one would lose every process, follower, and time spent on building an audience.




Do you own your Mastodon account? 


No, your account is merely yours given that you can be restricted from it at any time. Additionally, it's important to note that having an account on one server does not automatically mean having the same account on another server, so this gives room for an "identity crisis" as impersonation and fraud can be easily implemented. 


Do I need approval to Join Mastodon? 


Yes, in most cases you do. Each server decides on whether or not sign-ups should be instant, invite-only, or subject to a review, thus some are subject to manual review before a user is fully given access, guess you better not be known as an 'enemy' by the reviewers or you'd never gain access to your desired server. 


Is Mastodon a blockchain? 


No, Mastodon is not a blockchain, but rather, open-source software that enables the federation of social servers as an attempt to eliminate the centralization of social media usage. 


Is Mastodon a cryptocurrency? 


No, Mastodon is not a cryptocurrency and so far, has zero plans to launch a cryptocurrency. 


What are the alternatives to Mastodon? 


Hive blockchain, the benefits of Mastodon, and more can be obtained from the Hive ecosystem, not only can diverse communities be set up for diverse niches, these communities can also be tokenized, meaning that users gain access to decentralized layer 1, with incentivization in place - Hive rewards - and also tokenized communities, niche, and incentives, more than a triple win. 


The entire Web3 concept and blockchain security measures are deployed in one ecosystem, there are zero ways an account can be deleted on Hive, given that each account is a digital asset generated at a blockchain state and only the loss of private keys can cause one to lose access to his or her account, similar to a bitcoin address.


How does Mastodon make money? 


Mastodon is crowdfunded, there are zero ads or content algorithms as stated on their website. That said, some sources believe that this makes the platform highly inefficient for a larger network of users and this brings us to:


Does Mastodon Pay Its Users? 


No, Mastodon lacks any incentive for the users, although individual servers may implement it one way or the other - highly doubt it, or believe it can scale. 


The absence of base layer incentives exposes the entire network, there is zero wide governance and thus, no actual foundations are laid for a truly decentralized network.



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