Twitter's new rate limits are sending people running to Mastodon. Here's everything you need to know about the Twitter alternative.

Twitter's new rate limits are sending people running to Mastodon. Here's everything you need to know about the Twitter alternative.
Mastodon is gaining a new lease of life.Photo Illustration by Davide Bonaldo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • A fresh wave of Twitter chaos is causing social media users to flock to alternatives like Mastodon.
  • Mastodon is an open-source social-media platform and follows a similar format to Twitter.

Twitter is dealing with a new drama and Mastodon, a Twitter alternative, has apparently been reaping the benefits.

On Saturday, Elon Musk started cracking down on the number of tweets users can read. The billionaire said the temporary daily tweet limits were originally 6,000 for verified users, 600 for unverified users, and 300 for unverified new users.

He later tweeted that rate limits were soon increasing to 8,000 tweets for verified users, 800 for unverified users, and 400 for newly unverified users.

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Musk also blocked tweets from being viewed by people who were not signed in to Twitter. The policies angered some users, despite Musk stating that both restrictions were temporary.

The backlash appears to have stoked interest in alternatives to Twitter. Bluesky, Tumblr, Mastodon, and Hive were all trending on Saturday afternoon, Insider previously reported.


Mastodon, which was founded in 2016, has been benefitting from Musk's chaotic management of Twitter for some time.

Since Musk took over the platform, Twitter users have been jumping ship to Mastodon. The platform grew from approximately 300,000 users to 2.5 million users between October and November, Eugen Rochko, Mastodon's founder, said in a blog post.

Rochko said more journalists, political figures, writers, actors, and organizations had been moving to the platform, following Musk's Twitter takeover.

Twitter later appeared to try and stop this exodus, blocking posts that linked to Mastodon before announcing a new policy that it said would end the "free promotion" of other social-media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

The policy prohibited users from promoting their other social-media accounts on Twitter. After facing online backlash, Twitter backed down and deleted the announcement from its Twitter Support account and website.


Mastodon is seen as a Twitter competitor and follows a similar format. Users share posts, known as "toots," and follow each other.

However, unlike Twitter, the software is open-source and decentralized, meaning there is no one server or company running it.

The site is around six years old but gaining a new lease of life with people who have become disillusioned with Twitter.

How to make a Mastodon profile

Similar to other major social-media networks, Mastodon users set up a profile with a username, display name, short bio, avatar, and header.

Users can also set "profile flags" to let others know how they want to use the platform and be interacted with.


Usernames on Mastodon are more like emails than typical social-media handles. Users choose the first part of their username and the second part is whichever Mastodon server they signed up with.

Most usernames will look something like this: @username@Mastodon server.

How to start posting

Mastodon's character limit is larger than Twitter's. Toots have a limit of 500 characters per post.

Users interact with each other by replying, liking, or resharing these toots. They can also follow each other or search through hashtags.

Verification is free on the platform, although Mastodon manages the process slightly differently from Twitter.


Mastodon offers link verification that cross-references any links in a user's profile to prove they are the real owner. For example, users could link to a personal blog or homepage.

What are Mastodon's instances?

Mastodon runs across multiple servers, which are connected by common technology. The first thing users do after they sign up is join one of the servers, known as instances.

Instances are themed, usually by things like countries, cities, or interests, and aim to put users in a community of people who are likely to post things they are interested in.

Since instances are all connected, users in different ones can still follow and interact with each other.

Each instance is in charge of its own rules and content moderation, and users are encouraged to join the ones they agree with.


Some instances ask for donations, since creating and maintaining them is volunteer-based, but most are free.