I have written a short blog that analyses the differences I perceive. Let’s have a look at the elephant in the room…
Structure: Both platforms look similar but are fundamentally different. Twitter is centralised to its own servers, owned by the richest man and funded by advertising. Mastodon is decentralised to autonomous diverse communities (fediverse) that rent their own servers.
Design: Twitter has a consistent experience that is the same across Mobile & Web. User content is served by the algorithm based on your personal information (web history, interests, dislikes, follows, likes etc..) to further engagement on the platform (as well as to advertisers).
Mastodon on the web is consistent but there is a choice of mobile apps with different designs. User content is served based on who they follow, the hash tags they follow (version 4 only) and on the federated timeline followed by those on the same server.
Administration: Twitter’s acceptable content rules and account suspensions are moderated by its corporate structure. Each Mastodon server has its own rules administered by its admins and moderators.
Power Hierarchy: The owners of Twitter have to balance the corporate goals of the company with that of its users and advertisers. Mastodon Server administrators and moderators have to balance the sustainability of the server in the fediverse and the needs of its community.
Potential Abuse of Power: Twitter can optimise the algorithm to further its own interests (commercially and politically). Many influencers are skilled to exploit the algorithm as well. Mastodon is free open-source software that admins can modify on each server.
Twitter is a part of the social media Oligopoly. Mastodon could lead to servers that monopolise communities where accounts are suspended or blocked much like excommunication from a Church.
Cost: Twitter is free at the point of use in exchange of your personal information (web history, interests, dislikes, follows, likes etc..). An $8 a month upgrade provides additional benefits above other users.
Mastodon is free at the point of use for most users. The hosting on servers doe cost money which may require donations from their community. It’s possible for users to host their own instance of Mastodon by renting server space for as little as $3 a month.
Future Potential: Derivatives of Mastodon will be created that connect to the fediverse to serve different purposes.This may contain niche features that serve different communities. It will become easier for non-tech users to have their own instance (sovereignty) of Mastodon.