Ever since Elon Musk took over Twitter, firing over 10,000 employees and temporarily charging for the official account’s blue tick, users have been flocking to alternative platforms, with Mastodon and Hive emerging as the two most popular.
So, how does each platform work and how do they differ from Twitter? We break them both down here.
What Is Mastodon?
Created in 2016 by European software developer Eugen Rochko, Mastodon is a community-owned, decentralised platform. It works like Twitter, in that users can post messages, as well as share images and videos. Users can also follow, like, share and repost each other’s content.
Messages posted on Mastodon can be up to 500 characters, while Twitter caps it at 280 characters. Instead of ‘tweets’, though, users post ‘toots’.
The main difference between Mastodon and Twitter, though, is that Mastodon isn’t a single website. Instead, it’s made up of thousands of independently run servers, also known as “instances”, which each have their own rules and moderation policies. You can sign up for a specific server, which is run by whoever set it up, usually volunteers.
Mastodon has over 4,600 servers in topics including General, Technology, and Activism. Some servers include ‘techhub.social’, a hub for passionate technologists; ‘pettingzoo.co’, described as a “chill server run by some queer leaning gay dudes”; and ‘metalhead.club’, which focuses on metal music content, hosted in German and powered by 100% green energy.
What Is Hive?
Hive, on the other hand, is a lot more like Twitter. Founded by 24-year-old Raluca Pop in 2019, the platform lets you follow the accounts you’re interested in, post text and images, and profile layouts look similar to Twitter. To keep up with what’s trending, users can visit a discovery page.
Unlike Twitter, Hive lets users add songs to their profile for followers to listen to as they’re browsing so they can get a better feel for you. Also different is that Hive Social isn’t available on desktop yet. Though with the recent influx of users since Twitter’s downfall, chances are it won’t be long until it hits desktops too.
Oh, and Hive has clear-cut rules too. Nothing can be not safe for work and there’s no hate speech allowed on the platform. “We’ve really created and maintained a safe and healthy community. If you get on the app, it just feels really pleasant and relaxed,” Pop told Insider.
Which Is Better — Mastodon or Hive?
If you’re a former Twitter user looking for a good alternative, Hive is your best bet as it more closely resembles Twitter. You don’t have to limit yourself to one interest and you can still stay on top of what’s happening in the world. The main drawback is that Hive isn’t available on desktop yet.
Mastodon would work for you if you happen to find a server focusing on a particular interest you’re passionate about. Tech writer Daryl Baxter shared that while Hive Social is cleaner, there was something about Mastodon’s community that kept pulling him back to the social media platform and trying out different third-party apps that developers had been working on to make it more user-friendly.
“However, while Mastodon is more welcoming to new users, there are still three features it quickly needs to do in order to be the successor to Twitter, before another platform like Hive overtakes it,” he wrote, before citing the updates needed as ‘Redesign and rename servers’, ‘Add some colour and shine’ and ‘Make it fun’.