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Mastodon is the rapidly growing social media platform built around thousands of different servers. The lack of a centralized database can make it difficult to find the friends (and Brands™️) you talk to on other platforms, but it’s not too hard to find them.

Finding Your Friends From Twitter

Mastodon is mostly designed as an alternative to Twitter, so most of the “migration” tools are built around Twitter. The most useful search tool is Debirdify, which scans the profiles of everyone you follow on Twitter for a linked Mastodon account — in the bio, name, somewhere else. It’s an automated method of looking at everyone you follow to find their Mastodon username. Fedifinder is another tool that works similarly.

To get started, open Debirdify in your web browser, and click the “Authorize with Twitter” button. This will allow Debirdify to scan your Follows list with Twitter’s official API.

Debirdify authorize button

After that, just click the “Search followed accounts” button. Depending on how many people you follow on Twitter, it should only take a few seconds. The web app will then display a list of every Mastodon account it found, including their name, sorted by the server (“instance”) they are located on. Debirdify also generates some cool graphs based on server data.

You can scroll through the list and follow anyone you want — the easiest way is to copy their username (e.g. example@mastodon.social) and paste it in the search bar of your Mastodon website or mobile app. Then you can just click the follow button.

List of accounts on Debirdify
A list of accounts to follow from my Twitter on Debirdify

There’s also a way to follow everyone that Debirdify finds on Mastodon in a few clicks. Click the big “Download CSV Export” button near the bottom of Debirdify — this will save a list of Mastodon accounts in a format that Mastodon can recognize. In your Mastodon website, click the Preferences link, then navigate to Import and Export > Data export. You can also go straight to example.com/settings/import, replacing “example.com” with the domain of your Mastodon server.

Once you’re on the Import page, make sure the dropdown menu is set to “Following list,” and the “Merge” checkbox is checked instead of “Overwrite.” Then click the choose file button and select the CSV file you just downloaded from Debirdify.

Importing a following list on Mastodon

After all that, click the Upload button. Your Mastodon server will queue up every account in the list to follow, though it could take a while, depending on how many accounts are in the list and how busy the Mastodon server is at the time.

Finding Your Friends From Other Sites

Unfortunately, there’s not an automated tool like Debirdify for quickly finding people you already know (and Brands™️) on Mastodon for other platforms, like Facebook or Instagram. For the moment, your best option is to go through your list of friends and followed accounts, and check their name and other profile info for a Mastodon link or username. Some people are adding their Mastodon username to the end of their profile name, but that’s less common on sites like Facebook.

Mastodon search on Facebook
Searching for posts about Mastodon from your Facebook friends

You can also try using search filters, depending on what platform you’re on. For example, on Facebook, you can search for “Mastodon” on the search page/tab and narrow down the results to just posts from your friends. That will only work for friends who have posted about it, rather than just adding a link to their profile, but it’s something. You can also make a post linking to your account, and let your friends find you.

Once you know someone’s username, you can copy and paste it into the search bar in your Mastodon interface. If the account is valid and working, it will appear in the search results, and you can just click the follow button.

Searching for a username on Mastodon
Searching for a username on Mastodon

There are also plenty of people to check out on the platform beyond the ones you already know. Scroll through the #introduction or #introductions tags on your server, and check out our list of 10 fun accounts to follow on the platform.

Profile Photo for Corbin Davenport Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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