FAQ – Cwestiwn Cyffredin

Q. What is the Fediverse? Mastodon? Tŵt? A. The Fediverse is a collection of software services such as microblogging (Mastodon), image sharing (Pixelfed), video sharing (PeerTube). The Fediverse is like all the social media you know, but operated by individuals running communities, which all interoperate and can talk to each other. It is decentralised, and independent. The technical term is federated, as in lots of different things that can act as one. Federated Universe = Fediverse.

Mastodon is one Fediverse platform, roughly speaking a Twitter-like service for short posts of 500 characters. Millions of people on thousands of servers use Mastodon to connect with the Fediverse.

Tŵt is one Mastodon server of the thousands that exist.

Q. Who owns this? Can it be bought? A. The service is operated by a New York-registered charity (a 501 c 3 non-profit organisation). The servers are in the EU (France), and are subject to GDPR.

Here is our New York filing: https://www.charitiesnys.com/RegistrySearch/show_details.jsp?id={F0E43479-0000-C43E-9175-B14A4989819D}

Here is a publicly searchable database of charities with our listing: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/834296652

The founder is Jaz-Michael King, you can read more about him here: https://jaz.co.uk

Q. Why is it in New York? A. Jaz is a Welsh expat living in New York, which is why the charity is incorporated there. The moderators are all Wales-based.

Q. Can Tŵt be hacked? A. Yes, everything on the Internet can be hacked. You should not use Tŵt (nor any public-facing social media service) for private activities, the two do not go well together. If you would like guidance on conducting private messaging, please see https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/communicating-others

Q. Can Tŵt see/read my messages? A. Almost any administrator of any computer can technically see everything on that computer. Tŵt is no different. However, there is a safeguard insofar as no Tŵt staff can access the database itself, this is governed by our managed services provider Masto.host, you can read more about their infrastructure here: https://masto.host/infrastructure/

Q. Will Tŵt sell my data, datamine my activity, do other nefarious things? A. No. We require a session cookie so the service can work. We do not allow any third-party services or APIs. There is no Google tracker. There is no Facebook login. It is completely independent of all other services. You are free to completely delete your account at any time, or transfer it to a different Mastodon server (we recommend choosing from the list available at https://joinmastodon.org/communities )

Bear in mind that if you post things publicly to the Internet, the Internet now has a copy. That can be difficult to completely remove. Never use public-facing social media for conversations or content that you might not want everyone and anyone to see. The goal is community, the activity is micro-blogging, there is an implicit understanding that we exist to publish your content to millions of people. Using things like “followers-only” or “direct messaging” can help you reduce the context of who sees your post, but any of those people are able to republish what you posted.

Q. What about my personal data? A. We only require an email address. You choose a password and a username. You may also add a two-factor method to better secure your account. We track your current IP address as there is no way to serve data to you without it. We do not track your accounts on other services, we do not know your name (unless you choose to tell us) and we do not track your browsing habits.

Q. Will you sell it? Will you monetise the service? A. We are a registered charity. We cannot sell things, we cannot sell the company. If you see us begin to accept advertising, sponsorship, or in any way seek to monetise your use of the service, follow these instructions to move your account to a different server: https://docs.joinmastodon.org/user/moving/

Q. Why can't I search all the text of every post on every server? A. Mastodon, and therefore Tŵt, seeks to create a social network free of abuse and harassment. One vector for abuse is searching for words or terms that can be targeted for such abuse. You can choose to use any terms in your posts without hashtags, making it harder to find you or target you for using these terms. We allow searching by hashtag, so if you'd like to be seen talking about a particular topic, simply add the hash #LikeThis – this will now be searchable.

Q. I see objectionable content! How can I report something! A. First of all, we'd like you to own your feed, so you can set filters to manage the content that comes to you. There are no algorithms at play, you are in complete control of what you see. Go to https://toot.wales/filters to add filters to your feeds.

Second, you can mute or block any other user on any other server. You can even block entire servers.

Lastly you can report any user or post using the drop down menu and choosing “report”. All reports are considered against our Community Guidelines, available here: https://toot.wales/about/more

See https://docs.joinmastodon.org/user/moderating/#blocking-and-muting for more help on managing what is in your feed.

Q. I have other questions! A. You can message the administrators and moderators of the service or feel free to post something to the network with the hashtag #AskFedi