Mastodon is a distributed social media platform, similar to Twitter. There are hundreds of different Mastodon sites in the Fediverse, and you can make an account on any of them and then follow and interact with users across all the different instances. It has easy apps for your phone too! This is a great guide to Mastodon that goes over what it is and will answer many questions you might have.
For using this server, the main things I would advise (which are all in that guide) are:
leftist.network is a Mastodon server specifically geared towards those with Leftist politics -- though your posts aren't restricted to politics! While you're welcome to follow people from this server if your politics don't fall considerably on the left side of the spectrum, we'd strongly suggest making your Mastodon account elsewhere. This is meant to be a space where Leftists feel welcome, and our Code of Conduct is stricter than other instances.
Please remember that public toots made on this instance are public! If you wish to only share your posts with friends, we recommend both:
Even then, as with all other Mastodon instances, your posts and Direct Messages are not encrypted, are still subject to subpoena (for this instance in the United States), and should not be considered secure. You're encouraged to use secure messaging for confidential communications, and we have recommendations below.
The following guidelines are not a legal document, and final interpretation is up to the administration of leftist.network; they are here to provide you with an insight into our content moderation policies.
Given that leftist.network will be more restrictive than other Mastodon instances, we've separated out the Code of Conduct into 2 sections:
Remember that both apply, and if you're not comfortable with the extended Code of Conduct, we recommend creating your account elsewhere and limiting interactions with accounts on this instance. If posts or messages break either sets of Code of Conduct, users are encouraged to report them.
These provisions notwithstanding, the administration of the service reserves the right to revoke any user's access permissions, at any time, for any reason, except as limited by law.
Leftist.network is meant to be a space where Leftists feel welcome to discuss their politics, beliefs, and lives openly, without fear of constant criticism or argument. This service is only a vehicle for debate if the users in question have been clear in being open to it.
The following conduct is disallowed and is grounds for removal from this platform:
As noted above, neither leftist.network nor any other Mastodon instance should be considered secure communications. We recommend meeting other Leftists here, and then connecting via secure platforms if you wish to have a private discussion.
Why Briar specifically? Because it offers decentralized messaging with or without internet. We strongly recommend reading their How it Works page
It works great for messaging each other currently, and will still work if you later find yourself trying to communicate with others without internet access, such as at a protest. Besides private messages, Briar supports private group messages, forums, and blog posts. Briar is essentially a better version of Firechat, the distributed messaging Hong Kong protesters used to communicate with each other. If you plan to communicate with others using Briar for a protest, it's recommended to have a copy of the apk to be able to give to others to install, such as connecting to each other's phones via USB, or passing it on a USB flash drive.
Signal is also encrypted messaging, and a secure platform for messaging. Unlike Briar, which is only available for Android, Signal is available for iPhone and Android. The reason Briar has our main recommendation is that it works both with and without internet, while Signal requires internet. If Briar doesn't entirely fit your needs, we recommend installing both Briar and Signal, and falling back to Signal when needed.
Jitsi Meet is Open Source hosted videoconferencing software. On your laptop or desktop you can videoconference using only your browser with no extensions or installation. For mobile there is an easy app available for Android and iPhone
Note that while it is easy to have client to server encryption for Jitsi, using normal https ssl connections and the built-in encryption of WebRTC video, Jitsi calls are not End to End Encrypted. They are only as secure as the server being used for them, and how much you trust the owners of that server. While there is a Public Jitsi Server available, for confidential chats we'd recommend setting up your own server or using the server of someone you trust. It's extremely easy to setup, either from your house or a cheap web host.