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    When I was at Tumblr in 2013-15 we were always having to fight Apple. It was strange, at that time Tumblr was often the app you saw on iPhones in the flagship Apple store in Manhattan to really show off the potential of the phone, but then they would delist us when we put out a new release because a tester was able to use the app to find porn. At that time, about 11% of the content stored actually was “adult” in nature, although it was likely a higher proportion of view volume.

    This led to a particularly huge fiasco for us when we tried to make searching for certain tags that often resulted in “adult” material hidden when searched for from the mobile app. Some of those tags were things like “lesbian” etc… which obviously was not a move that made our large LGBTQ+ community happy.

    Over time, a lot of effort was spent trying to hide mature content from the mobile app. At one point, we used a company with people in India to look at flagged images to verify that they were in fact mature (or in violation of our very liberal policies at the time, basically just no child porn, self-harm or gore. Search for “cats of jihad” and you may find terrorists who we let stay under the philosophy of “sunlight is the best disinfectant”, which worked fine for our community which self-policed itself quite a bit more effectively than other social media platforms of the time. posters couldn’t remove content that other people responded to calling them out). We learned that in India tickling might be considered a pretty mature activity.

    Despite these efforts, it was always a cat-and-mouse game. Sometimes it was resolved by a “call from above”. It was always stressful, and we always felt like we had to censor ourselves too much to survive in Apple’s walled garden.

    Anyway, I expect this is just another temporary removal.

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      Plume might be a better replacement for Tumblr once they are production ready, Mastodon aims to be more like Twitter, so the culture and interface is tailored for very short blogs. There is also PixelFed which is more similar to Instagram.

      Artists and such might not find Mastodon very useful compared to Tumblr for their purposes.

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        How susceptible is the Mastodon platform from dramatic overlords who want to delete your content / network?

        One thing I’m worried about is if I sign up to a niche network, and some ‘owner’ party does not like me anymore and decides to delete me or the whole instance. Does it work in that way?

        If I host my own instance, do I get to take part in other instances from my own? It’s all a bit of a new paradigm to me (and maybe others).

        Is mastodon regulated in any way? What stops bad people from imitating my account or trolling/harrassing etc?

        I feel like Mastodon is ticking some boxes for me (I never got into Twitter or Tumblr really), but at the same time I have trouble understanding how I would actually use it

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          It works essentially the same way as email; if you use an address on your own domain, you have control over your interactions with the network; if you use someone elses domain, they can ban your account.

          Some instances (domains) will only contact other instances according to a whitelist, or a blacklist; this is yhe main anti-trolling feature as far as I know.

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            I made this post about Pleroma, but it explains what Mastodon is as well, they are the same network. https://blog.soykaf.com/post/what-is-pleroma/

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              Yeah, if you sign up for some Mastodon instance, you have to trust that the people running the instance will keep letting you use it and keep hosting it. I’m aware of one or two cases of people suddenly ceasing to operate a Mastodon instance for their community over political and/or interpersonal drama, so it’s definitely a risk. Of course this is the status quo with tumblr right now, and anyone who has an account on a bad mastodon instance can just go and create a new account on another one they like better.

              If you host your own instance, you can communicate with any instance except ones that explicitly block your instance. Mastodon is a rails app, so running an instance requires as much knowledge as you need to run and host a rails app. I run an instance myself for my personal use, so if I break something or need to reboot the computer it’s running on, I’m the only one affected.

              Being decentralized, there’s no regulation of the system as a whole, other than users choosing to block other users and instances choosing to block other instances. This is a feature as far as I’m concerned - programmers should build technologies that make it hard for people to prevent other people from publishing content, and easy for them to block themselves from seeing that content.

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                Mastodon is a rails app, so running an instance requires as much knowledge as you need to run and host a rails app.

                Even better… it’s been Dockerized, so you can basically ignore the details and treat it like pretty much any other Dockerized app. I used this guide to set up my own instance. Unfortunately, while that documentation repo is an official one, it’s also deprecated, and it doesn’t seem like the new docs site mentions Docker at all :-(

                To summarize the process, though, it’s pretty much

                • git clone https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon.git ~/mastodon
                • cd ~/mastodon
                • git checkout v2.6.1
                • In docker-compose.yml, comment out the three “build: .” lines. Change the three “image: tootsuite/mastodon” lines to “image: tootsuite/mastodon:v2.6.1”.
                • cp .env.production.sample .env.production
                • docker-compose build
                • chown -R 991:991 public
                • docker-compose run --rm web bundle exec rake mastodon:setup
                • Go through the interactive setup wizard
                • docker-compose up -d

                Obviously it could be streamlined a little, but I don’t think it’s too bad for setting up a relatively complicated web application. You don’t even need to worry about setting up a database yourself.

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                  Containerization is a good idea in theory but when I tried it a bunch of stuff from the (unofficial, I think) documentation didn’t work right and I had to spend a bunch of time debugging it. Maybe it’s better now, I stopped looking at the documentation once I finally got the thing working right.

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                What stops bad people from imitating my account?

                In short, nothing. One of the downsides of federation is that there’s no central authority for verifying users or policing impostors the way Twitter does. (Worse, Mastodon lets users upload their own emoji, and one of the most popular choices is Twitter’s blue “verified” checkmark. If you put that at the end of your display name, the appearance is pretty much that of a verified user on Twitter.)

                One step Mastodon has made lately is a lite version of verifying the links a user puts in their profile. If you look at my profile, for example, I have a link to my personal site, and that link is shown in a green box with a checkmark, indicating that my site links back to my Mastodon profile with a rel=me link. That gives you some assurance that that Mastodon profile and that website are controlled by the same person. Of course, like the green lock icon in a browser’s address bar, you generally don’t realize when this indicator is not there. And since anyone can run a Mastodon instance, and they can change the source code however they want, you can only trust this indicator as far as you trust the admins of the instance displaying it.

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                  Seeing how being a “bluecheck” on Twitter has become politicized, I would assume anyone using that icon on Mastodon is mocking Twitter’s particular style of verification, rather than asserting anything meaningful about who they claim to be.

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                    Oh, definitely. My point was that unwary users might see the Twitter-style blue checkmark and get the mistaken impression that it actually means something about the user in question.

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                      It doesn’t really matter what their intent is. If the reader can sensibly* mistake their use of the Blue Check for actual verification, then they’re impersonating a verification process, even if the headspace they were in when they did it was to mock the Bird Site.

                      * Don’t ask me to define “sensibly”

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                  1. Mastodon is not commercial.



                  Although I admit the only reason I registered an account there was for the laughs.

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                    This is just one instance with a peculiar policy, the other 1000 servers aren’t.

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                      I’m well aware, but the point I was trying to make slightly facetiously is that anyone could well create a commercial Masto instance. The license allows commercial use. I would argue that Pawoo.net is a large, commercial instance or at least commercially backed.

                      So while most instances are non-commercial, I can see a dark future where some giant moves in and makes one giant commercial instance everyone moves into and it’s email vs gmail all over again.

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                    Mastodon has a flexible approach to adult content.

                    FWIW, the problem with Tumblr seems to have been child porn content - which would get any Mastodon instance / Mastodon-compatible apps into trouble just the same.

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                      It would, and there is plenty of dubious content in the Fediverse. Someone who makes a Mastodon app and tries to get it reviewed by the App Store could give the reviewer instructions to log into an account on verychildfriendly.mastodon.example which peers with few or no other instances. The reviewer would have to go a long way off the rails to get to reject-worthy content.

                      This is not to say that it wouldn’t happen. There used to be posts about reviewers searching dictionaries for rude content and banning them, and there’s no reason a reviewer wouldn’t deliberately search out a bad Mastodon account to demonstrate that it could be found from within the app. An author could nontheless work to minimise that likelihood.

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                        I assume that’s why, e.g. Tootdon, is 17+ in the App Store - “unrestricted access to the internet and all the associated filth you might find there.”

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                      Is this readable for anyone else? I’m seeing light grey text on white and it’s basically unreadable in it’s default form.

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                        The background colour is #1F232B for me. Decreased productivity turned on? :-)

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                          Turns out the problem was a plugin called Rocket Readability, which apparently was causing the background colour to get ignored entirely for some reason. Now disabled it!