Pro-ISIS Tech Outlet Publishes Guide To Twitter Alternative Mastodon

November 18, 2022

On November 15, 2022, a pro-Islamic State (ISIS) media group published a brief document on the filesharing website, titled "What is Twitter Alternative Mastodon and How do You Use It?" The document acquaints readers with the features of the social networking service and describes how to open an account, but refrains from encouraging using Mastodon or discussing how ISIS supporters might use it to their advantage.

The guide notes that Mastodon, which was created in 2016 by German software developer Eugen Rochko, is a free decentralized open-source social media network very similar to Twitter, in which users can follow or block each other, send messages, and create lists; Mastodon employs different terminology than Twitter, using Toot instead of Tweet, Boost instead of Retweet, and Favorite in place of Like. The outlet calls Mastodon a "better alternative" to Twitter, noting that as a nonprofit, "its main goal [is] benefiting the public, not pleasing investors." Unlike Twitter, which is completely controlled by the company, which sets policies binding all users and guaranteeing the integrity of all content posted, Mastodon is one of thousands of independent networks belonging to a system called the Fediverse, which are hosted on separate servers but can communicate with one another.

The outlet notes that since Mastodon is completely open-source, anyone can register their own Mastodon server and "specify the rules and policies that apply only to this version." New users have to choose a server on which to open their account, but can follow and communicate with users of other Mastodon servers, although servers have the ability to ban other servers at their discretion. Different servers have different rules, as some allow anyone to open an account while others can be joined by invitation only or require the consent of the server admin. After creating an account, one can transfer it to another server. The guide notes that the site contains a list of 106 Mastodon servers committed to the "Mastodon servers agreement," whereby each server agrees to enforce its own monitoring content, create backup copies of the site, and give users a three-month warning before suspending their accounts.

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