Mastodon Features Twitter Should Steal (But Won’t)

Any platform that supports freedom of expression should have a content warning system much like the one offered by Mastodon. I bet Musk won’t implement it, because his Snowflake fans would find that kind of free speech annoying (and he’s afraid of them).

Mute people for a while

Sometimes a person you enjoy following gets into a mood. You don’t want to unfollow them, but you also don’t want to deal with whatever they’re currently screaming about. Perhaps they will endlessly discuss a movie that you will never see. Maybe they’re live-tweeting a sporting event, or maybe they’re preoccupied with something political. You don’t have many options on Twitter — you can unfollow them, mute them, or block them. All of these changes are permanent.

Mastodon lets you mute people for a set amount of time – anywhere from five minutes to seven days – enough time for the person to work through whatever they’re posting a lot of at the moment. It’s a nice compromise, and Twitter should add it.

Simpler verification process

The purpose of Twitter’s verification system, at least in its early days, was to confirm that a particular account was indeed operated by a particular politician, celebrity, journalist, or organization. The checkmark acquisition system was opaque, which led to the checkmark becoming somewhat of a status symbol. That said, Musk’s early attempts at “fixing” were mostly just spammers’ paradise.

At the same time, Mastodon has a system that allows quick verification without any additional costs. Basically, if you link your Mastodon account to the “rel=me” tag on your website, Mastodon will highlight that you control the site on your profile. This gives people a quick way to confirm your identity without creating a lot of work for moderators. Twitter could do worse than copy this strategy for “official” accounts. Elon Musk won’t do this, probably because he wants to make you pay for verification while calling him a Democrat.

edit button (free)

Twitter users want an edit button. They can get one if they’re willing to pay $8 a month. Mastodon users get an edit button for free. However, Elon won’t give this in – probably because he loves money more than he loves you.

Real-time support for third-party customers

The best way to use Twitter has been with third-party clients, which generally offer a smoother, more customizable experience than the official Twitter app and website. TweetBot, for example, is a better way to use Twitter on your Mac than anything built by Twitter. The problem: Twitter severely restricted its API a few years ago, which limited the kinds of things third-party clients could do. You cannot get notifications for likes or retweets. Polls are just off. I can go on.

Mastodon does not have this problem. Third-party clients can do everything — and in some cases, more than the official website and apps can do. It’s refreshing, and it’s something Twitter has to do to reward its valued users. Although she will not. Because …

Follow Hashtags

On Twitter, you can follow accounts and search for hashtags. Mastodon allows users to follow an entire hashtag, so all relevant posts will appear on your home screen. I don’t know if Twitter should add this, but a lot of people love it, and it’s a really great way to find people who post regularly about topics you’re interested in.

No ads or subscriptions

City squares are open to all. They don’t charge an entry fee, and they aren’t covered in ads. Sure, there might be a business or two adjacent to the town square, and there might be some walls covered in punk party flyers, but for the most part, the town square is primarily a non-commercial space. Twitter, if it really was a city square, it would be. Mastodon already. There is no company involved with Mastodon – it is open source software owned by a non-profit organization. The network is run by volunteers who set up servers for their friends and communities. Anyone can set up a server and connect to all other servers, and moderation is done by volunteers.

Now, I don’t think Elon Musk will make Twitter free and non-commercial. He’s a business, and he’s a businessman—not an engineer, not an advocate for free speech, not someone who really cares about society at the end of the day, regardless of his public pronouncements. He is a money person who loves money and is willing to have more of it (although the money he currently has does not do much for his mental and emotional health).

And that’s the problem: A town square, by definition, can’t be a business. It should be a space that people own. This is what Elon Musk’s Twitter can’t be, and what Mastodon actually is. I wrote about how to get started with Mastodon, so check it out if you’re curious.

#Mastodon #Features #Twitter #Steal #Wont

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