What's Mastodon? Mastodon is basically Twitter, except with less trolls and Nazis. And longer tweets.
It’s also Twitter without a whole bunch of VC investment that it needs to try and pay back by monetizing your eyeballs and keeping you on the site for as long as possible, regardless of whether that's by making you happy or enraging you.
And finally, the last big difference is that instead of living on a bunch of computers run by people working for Twitter, Mastodon lives on a bunch of computers run by whoever feels like running an “instance”.
Each instance can set its own policies. If you really want to be a jerk to people, you can find or start an instance that’ll let you! But people on other instances can very easily filter out not just you, but your entire instance. The hope is that this will keep things more civil than what Twitter has turned into. The reality is that there are probably exciting new failure modes somewhere in the future.
The policies of this particular instance can be found here. The TL;DR version of them is "Imagine you have a cool queer aunt. Don't do anything that'd probably piss her off."
Imagine you have a cool queer trans aunt who is a cartoon dragon sometimes. Don't do anything that'd probably piss her off.
This is an experiment. We currently make no promises as to the safety of any data you post to this site, nor to its persistence. Shit happens.
We do, however, promise not to try to monetize your attention with advertisements. We also promise not to share your private data with any other people, government agencies, or corporate entities. Well, we might share your data if the government comes knocking with a big pile of lawyers. We haven't had that happen yet.
We also don't want to dig into your private messages. That said, if someone is claiming you're harassing them in PMs, we will have a look at them. Please try not to make us have to look. Also, keep in mind that private messages are not encrypted, and other servers are not guaranteed to respect the 'this is private' marker. I would not advise talking about anything illegal here until the Mastodon project solves this.
It's up to you if you trust us to keep these promises. "We" is currently just @anthracite, a trans lady in her mid-forties.
The whole model of commercial social networks has been "make money by selling your attention to advertisers, as increasingly-more-specific market segments". This has a lot of problems.
Right now, running this thing costs me about $27/month, which is pocket change for me. But if you'd like to help out then I've set up a Patreon.
Alternatively: make crazy porn of one of my fursonas happen, or make a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center or your local chapter of the Democratic Socialist Party. Or just take some spare money out of the bank and give it to someone near you who needs it more than either of us. ♥