December 1 2022 GM

From TCU Wiki
Glitter Meetups

Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EDT / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.

Date: Thursday, December 1st

Time: 9am EST / 2pm UTC

Who: Paul Aguilar

Moderator: Ursula

Where: On IFF Mattermost Square Channel.

Twitter crisis and Mastodon's alternative - How to use it and What can we expect?

After Elon Musk bought Twitter, its departments related to human rights, accessibility, content moderation, among others, were dismissed. In addition, some users have already experienced some unjustified temporal blockings of their profiles. The crisis is there and Mastodon has emerged as an alternative. We will check its features and what we can expect and not expect about it.

Bio: Paul Aguilar is a Mexican cybersecurity expert who works in SocialTIC, a non-profit organization dedicated to research, training, support and promotion of digital technology and information for social purposes.


Paul Aguilar (@penserbjorne on Mattermost and the rest of the Internet) is the Digital Security Coordinator in SocialTIC. SocialTIC is a Mexican non profit organization focused on technology for social change. They work supporting civil society groups and people such as journalists, activists and human rights defenders.

What challenges are we facing considering the Twitter crises after Elon Musk bought it?

  • Without doubt the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk is an example that reminds us that conventional social media networks are still companies driven by economic and power goals.
  • What Musk did in the end is nothing more than an aggressive display of power, playing with financial speculation, rumors and menaces.
  • We can see the same in his management strategy, where he came proposing quite aggressive changes that have been questioning the current and future position of Twitter.
  • Some of these changes include the dismissal of entire teams such as the department of human rights, accessibility or content moderation. Other teams and people resigned, like the security and privacy team.
  • Some users have experienced unjustified temporary suspensions in their profiles. And even the potential unlocking of accounts that incite hate speech, violence or misinformation.
  • Or the changes regarding account verification that at one time allowed for impersonation and potential phishing attacks.
  • All these facts imply major setbacks in terms of freedom of expression, and leaves great doubts about the future of security, privacy and freedom of expression of the platform.
  • This is an interesting recap of the events as they happened the first days of Elon Musk in Twitter

How would you explain the main differences between Twitter and Mastodon?

  • Mastodon is another social network with a different concept to Twitter, but that visually is similar. They could look alike in a first impression, but how they work is totally different.
  • Mastodon is a decentralized project that does not belong to a single company, but is created in a community way thanks to the people or groups that generate instances.
  • We can think of the Mastodon instances as small servers that are connected in a network and that make up all of Mastodon. People can sign up for these instances and interact with people in the instance they signed up for or with people in other instances.
  • Each instance has its own rules, so there is no common rule in general, but rather it depends on the community that develops within the instances.
  • In the end we can think of Mastodon as a set of groups on FB, or threads on Reddit, or channels on Telegram, where each of these is autonomous but interoperable (they can communicate with each other), and all this with a graphical interface similar to Twitter.
  • These types of networks are known as Fediverse, since they are universes or federated networks.
  • Mastodon is just one of multiple services in the fediverse. It is a "twitter-like" microblogging service.
  • Next to Mastodon, there is for example also Pixelfed, which focuses on image-sharing [think: Instagram-like].
  • The shared property of Mastodon and Pixelfed is that they both use the same underlying protocol: ActivityPub. The fediverse is a collection of servers [instances] that run Activity-Pub-based software.)

Don't you think that it was a misstep from some digital rights organizations to focus media strategy mainly on Twitter, that is, as pointed out, a corporate social network?

  • I think it depends on the communication objective that organizations have.
  • Sometimes you want to reach where the masses are, that's in conventional networks.
  • Perhaps a step that we have forgotten is to promote other spaces such as mastodon after getting the message to the general public.
  • We should not wait for crises like Twitter to promote other safe spaces, that's a fact.

What are the main features of mastodon?

  • The first thing is that Mastodon is an open source project that can be used by individuals, groups or communities without depending solely on a company.
  • Here is the GitHub repository
  • The second is the creation of instances, which are autonomous and have their own rules (this is done by a decentralized network), which allows communities and people to have their own guidelines with which they feel comfortable.
  • It is important to mention that just as instances can communicate with each other, they can also decide not to communicate with others that violate their rules or generate content they do not want to be associated with.
  • If you want to know more about creating instances and servers, you can check this link
  • The third thing is that there is no algorithm like the other social networks, so the content you see on Mastodon is cleaner and less biased or targeted, it simply responds to what you like and who you follow, there are no dark purposes behind $$$.
  • The foregoing helps to ensure that there is no targeted monitoring or based on user behavior or interests.
  • Mastodon's technology is based on the ActivityPub protocol, which allows it to be interoperable with other platforms such as Pixelfed (an alternative to Instagram).

How can I get an account? and how could I boost my interaction with my contacts? there is a function which enables people to be shown to other users with similar interests?

  • The first thing to do is to know in which instance to register.
  • The most famous is this one, this is where the largest number of users is concentrated and is the main instance or reference. This is maintained by the Mastodon team.
  • To find other instances or servers you can check on this link or use this tool.
  • It is necessary to know that there are instances in which you can register openly, there are others that require approval from the administrators and others that specifically require an invitation link (such as or
  • Remember to register in an instance that you trust, since the information you generate there can be accessed by those who administer the instance.
  • For example requires an invitation link. It does not allow you to create accounts.
  • On you need to apply for an account to be approved.
  • On you can create an account without any validation or additional request..
  • Once you register to the instance your username will consist of the username you entered and the domain of the instance, something like
  • As in the previous examples it could be , or .
  • Remember to always keep in mind that each instance has its own history and rules. Remember to check them first

What are the main interactions on Mastodon for the users? How can organizations communicate their content there? Hashtags work or they don't work as in traditional social media?

  • You can use #hashtags, mention people with @, create lists of people users. It works the same way, so your campaign should work the same way.
  • Once registered you can have a profile which is similar to Twitter. In this you can have data such as your user name, a biography, a profile or header image.
  • Within Mastodon you can create posts, or as they are called, Toots (it's like saying tweet but from Mastodon hehe).
  • Toots allow you to use 500 characters by default (or whatever is configured in the instance), create polls, attach multimedia, and even indicate if the material is sensitive or alarming.
  • Like Twitter, you can mention people with @, use #hashtags, emojis, links, etc.
  • The toots also have elements for replying, bookmarking or sharing on your timeline.
  • When interacting with the content, it is important to keep in mind that there are three parallel timelines.
  • The first one corresponds to #Explore , in which the publications that are popular within the fediverse in which the instance is communicated appear.
  • The second is Local where you can view the most recent publications of the people who are in that instance.
  • And finally Federated, where the most recent publications of people within the fediverse in which the instance is communicated can be found.
  • You can access from your mobile browser to have a navigation similar to what I shared.

What are the opportunities from the use of Mastodon to the communities?

  • The facilities offered by Mastodon as a federated network, with its own infrastructure and rules, allow the creation of self-managed spaces that are not possible in conventional or commercial social networks.
  • Thus, we can think of instances managed by communities that can have their own rules and not depend on the impositions existing in conventional networks, and that in many cases could allow safer and freer spaces for vulnerable groups or those that have historically been violated.