“Greetings from the Federation . . . “
Mastodon is the hot social media platform that journalists, (and many others) are fleeing to, now that the great #TwitterMigration is accelerating.
This quick-start guide is here to help you get started with the best possible chance of success on this strange, but very robust new platform. It only takes a few minutes if you follow these steps in order.
Mastodon is not a commercial social media app. It was coded by a 29-year-old German developer to work exactly as a dependable Anti-centralized social network. No one person can own Mastodon. There are no ads. There is no algorithm, no viral posts, no sudden new owner coming and making new rules and enabling bad behavior.
Forget the MetaVerse, with Social Media sites laying off tens of thousands of workers the future looks more like the internet’s past — a federal network of connected servers, rather than a monopolistic centralized one. And that is a good thing with regards to press freedoms, freedom of speech, privacy, and a whole lot more.
Step One – Choose a server (your local community)
A lot of people are confused by this. Servers with a lot of users are slower. The smaller and medium-sized ones are a pleasure. Ultimately it does not matter which server you choose, because you can always move to a different server and take your followers with you.
Compare the profile directories between these two servers hosting #journalist accounts.
|newsie.social has 14k active users – “journalists, news-people, journalism educators and comms professionals”||journa.host has 2.7K active users and calls itself “a reliable home for journalists on Mastodon.”|
I chose newsie.social as my server because it is Administrated by Jeff Brown at fourthestate.org. This server is run by journalists, for journalists. That’s working for me right now.
Sign up here with my invitation link to bypass the waiting list.
Step Two – Verify your profile
At a minimum, this means a mugshot photo of yourself and some links of Websites where your work is published.
Note those little green checkmarks in my profile are lit up because I have verified that those are indeed websites where I publish my work.
This part is easy if you have code-level access to a site like your blog or journalism profile page with your media outlet. You only have to add one line of code to get the verification.
When you edit your Mastodon profile, you will see the HTML code snippet that you need to copy and paste on your linked page to verify your account.
Now, Some people don’t like the fact that it automatically creates a hyperlink called “Mastodon” that links to your profile page. OK. You can delete the word “Mastadon” and keep the <a> tags like this.
In addition you can register with PressCheck.org and be verified as a credentialed journalist.
When you add your verified link in your profile, you will also see a green check.
Step Three – Secure your account
You will want to harden your account with some basic cybersecurity. If you enable 2FA (Two-factor authorization) you will have access to your account in case there is a password leak.
Click on your setting preferences and navigate to your Account pane and select Two-factor Authorization.
Use your phone. Follow the steps and be aware that the confirmation code expires really quick! Although a new one pops up quickly. Still you will need to be quick.
Step Four – Introduce yourself
After you have selected a server, a new username, and completed your profile, you are ready to make your first post. Below is my first #Mastodon post. It is known as an #Introduction and should include a short bio with your primary interests #Hashtagged.
Here is mine.
Step Five – Get the MetaText app
The MetaText app is my favorite way to use Mastodon with an iOS mobile device.
You can easily switch between the three primary timelines at the top (Home, Local and Federated) and you can find your bookmarks and everything for search and notifications. Clean, like a dream.
It will take you some time to find others to follow, but don’t rush and try to game the process to gain a zillion followers overnight. This is like 2004 all over again (For those of you who remember the Visual Editors social network I launched in 2004, or for those who joined Facebook that same year, or Twitter in 2007)
This site was coded to work in many familiar ways, but also in some very different ways, that seem to be in our favor.
Make of Mastodon what you will, it seems like this reboot may be what we all needed after the last six years of algorithm-fuled gruel.
Step Six – Support the Admin, Jeff Brown
Fourth Estate is here to support the best of what journalism is and what journalism does.
For the moment the newsie.social server is run by Jeff Brown of FouthEstate.org. and the way the community has grown so fast, Jeff is getting stuck with the bills, so if you like the vibe there, support the cause with your donations. It is the least we can do to get control over our newsfeeds and keep the unwanted parties away.
Step Seven – Follow a few of your favorite journalists
Jeff add the following tip . . .
Here is a very nice list of journalists on Mastodon
This is where your Local Mastodon feeds become suddenly interesting.
MoveToDon.org is a tool that you can use to quickly find and follow your Twitter pals on Mastodon. You must authenticate both your Twitter and Mastodon accounts and the tool magically shows you where your friends have landed in the Fediverse.
Step Eight – Invite your peeps with a personal invite link
Oh, and if you want to save time in building up your followers and people to follow, just send the invite link from your account settings page to your pals.
Follow me with this invite and get approved on Newsie.social in no time.
Step Nine – Install this browser extension
With a FediAct browser extension you can browse the newsfeed of journa (dot) host and can instantly boost, fave or follow with one click.
This let’s you skip the awkward Cut and Paste into your home server’s search box dance that Mastodon currently requires.
I can now have instant actions not just at that server . . . but from any server where I am viewing their local newsfeed.
HOW TO INSTALL
1) Install the extension
- — Chrome
- — Firefox
2) Follow some local newsfeeds from these servers and try boosting, faving or following a friend.
Step 10 – Beware of Fake accounts
After I published this guide a remarkable thing happened. My servers went down because of a spike in traffic AND It turns out that that Reuters profile was fake. The admin swooped in and knocked em off the site.
Social Media for Journalists
2) Joined #Twitter in July, 2007.
3) Joined #Mastodon in April 2022.
After you get on-boarded I recommend you take a deeper dive with more great insights provided at the fedi.tips site.