Mastodon, an open-source, decentralized microblogging platform, has been the most popular destination for former Twitter users over the last few weeks. The hashtag #RIPTwitter along with #Mastodon, #Tumblr, and other social media platforms, trended after new Twitter CEO Elon Musk delivered a long hours ultimatum to employees on Thursday.
Since Musk took over Twitter three weeks ago, both employees and users have been vocal in their criticism of his decisions and proclamations. For example, Musk made the once esteemed blue verification checkmark available for purchase for $7.99 a month, resulting in verified accounts impersonating brands and celebrities. Twitter has since changed the rules again and banned new users from subscribing to the Blue check subscription.
Mastodon: an alternative six years in the making
As Twitter users looked for a new platform to post their content, many have found solace in Mastodon. The platform is based on the same basic principles of microblogging but is entirely open-source and decentralized.
Mastodon claims it has since grown to a reported 2 million users this month, a 447% jump from last month’s user base. Specifically, reports show that Mastodon’s user base has soared by 1 million users since Musk took over Twitter three weeks ago, with many users citing its decentralized nature as a significant draw.
Mastodon was created in 2016 by Eugen Rochko, who had used Twitter since 2008 but was growing increasingly dissatisfied with it. With the help of Patreon supporters and fellow developers, Rochko created and developed the platform to give users a safe space for unfettered expression.
According to Mastodon’s website, the platform believes that a single commercial company should not regulate something as crucial as global communications. Therefore, they set out to build a user-friendly microblogging product that would not belong to any central authority. This means no one can shut down Mastodon, and users enjoy the freedom of unrestricted speech as long as it is within the platform’s code of conduct.
Mastodon is based on the Tweetdeck and has similarities to the popular Twitter interface. The key distinction is that people have to join servers particular to a town, country, or interest, and each server is supervised by its moderators, who can get rid of posts with hate speech or illegal content. This makes it easy for users to navigate and find their way around the platform quickly without prior knowledge or training.
“The ultimate power is in giving people the ability to create their own spaces, their own communities, to modify the software as they see fit, but without sacrificing the ability of people from different communities to interact with each other,” Rochko said in a 2017 blog.
Niche groups and tech enthusiasts had previously used Mastodon, but it now stands to gain significant numbers from the ongoing Twitter exodus