I have written a short blog to explain the difference between Mastodon and Twitter when it comes to moderation and administration. Some of this knowledge is from the technical documentation. Let’s have a look at the elephant in the room…
In Twitter if you find an offending or inappropriate tweet, you can report it to the moderation team. A team about two thousands strong (although this has recently been cut) moderate 206 million daily active users. A decision is made based on these rules: https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/twitter-rules.
In Mastodon you report an inappropriate toot to the moderators or admins of the server. Every server (some prefer to call this a community or instance) has their own rules on the about page. A server’s culture is important as many servers serve a specific community. Eg. Tech.
So, the difference in moderation between Twitter and Mastodon is that Twitter has to apply a one size fits all model to the rules while Mastodon servers have free range to set their own rules. Twitter often results in taking the minimal necessary action.
Mastodon’s design of a federation of servers mean the moderation tools can be lightly selective to outright bans. Moderators can suspend accounts on their home server and suspend toots from accounts on other servers reaching the home server (effectively deleted).
Moderators can mark an account as sensitive. This means all media that an account posts will be marked as sensitive on the home server. Moderators can also make an account as limited.
A limited account is hidden to all other users on that instance, except for its followers. All of the content is still there, and it can still be found via search, mentions, and following, but the content is invisible publicly. Only accounts on the home server can be limited. An account can be frozen. This prevents the user from doing anything with the account, but all of the content is still there untouched.
Finally, we have server-wide moderation. A home server can silence or suspend other servers. Silencing a server means their users don’t appear in public timelines but you can follow them on the home server.
Suspending a server means we won’t federate at all with them, and you can’t follow any users from this suspended server. Administrators also have further tricks up their sleeves where they can block by domain names and IP addresses.
An unhappy Mastodon user can always move or open a new account to another server and continue to engage with their following. On Twitter its very much all or nothing.