After six months in beta release, the bilingual Welsh social network toot.wales is now open to the public. Built with native support for Welsh and English language users, the network aims to connect the Welsh diaspora and provide a privacy-focussed alternative for social media users.
Tŵt is built on open-source technology and connects to a network of networks that boasts two million members, providing an instant audience and source of connections for new users. Unlike other social media platforms, the interface is fully available in Welsh and supports the use of non-English text. The platform allows users to share 500 characters of text as well as images and videos, with easy to understand control over visibility and discoverability. The site itself functions as a progressive web application, negating the need for a standalone mobile app, although free companion apps are available for Android and iOS devices.
Fuelled by bad press, online abuse and leaks of personal data, users are voting with their feet and leaving the large relatively unmoderated networks in their millions, resulting in the continuing decline in the membership of large social networks.
The app’s founder, Jaz-Michael King, envisions Tŵt as a community-driven network that will promote the use of Welsh online while offering an alternative for social media users seeking a less corporate experience.
“The web was built to liberate content, not hide it behind proprietary paywalls and data-mining conglomerates. Tŵt is a decentralised, privacy-first microblog that ensures each individual user owns their content. They can delete it or take it somewhere else, and they always have complete control over who can see and interact with their tŵtiau (toots).”
Tŵt leverages the open-source Mastodon service, a social media and social networking platform. Its various separately operated user bases are federated across many different sites called instances. These instances are connected into a federated social network, allowing users from different instances to interact with each other seamlessly. This means Tŵt is a part of the wider Fediverse, allowing its users to interact with users on different open platforms that support the same protocol.
The app is available at both twt.cymru and toot.wales, and has been beta tested by several hundred users in Wales, the Welsh diaspora and Welsh learners around the world who want to practise their language skills. Tŵt is free to join and is organised as a non-profit. The app does not accept advertising and does not sell data, ensuring the community can enjoy the app free of corporate interests.