Twitter users are flocking to Mastodon… but WTF is it?

The decentralized social platform is growing like crazy in the wake of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

Unless you’ve been living under a Tesla-sized rock, you know that things on Twitter lately have been… tumultuous.

Since Elon Musk’s takeover, nearly 1m users — many of them protesting the new leadership — have deactivated their accounts, and ~500k accounts have been suspended because of new moderation policies.

But, the show content must go on, and defectors have identified a new platform to unleash their hot takes: Mastodon.

  • Taking the name of an extinct mammal (and heavy metal band), the decentralized platform was founded in 2016 by German software developer Eugen Rochko.
  • Rochko reported that Mastodon surpassed 1m users this month, with 489k joining since Musk’s Twitter takeover.

“Decentralized” is Web3’s biggest buzzword…

… and means that Mastodon lets users create their own versions of its server, rather than being bound to a central one.

  • Servers are hosted by individuals or organizations who can set their own content moderation rules.
  • The platform’s source code is public, so users can contribute, fix bugs, and add new features.

Some analysts believe Twitter should pursue a similar strategy.

Mastodon shares some similarities with Twitter

The app uses hashtags, replies, and “boosting” (like retweeting), and can be accessed via phone app or web browser. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is a nonprofit and has no ads (#omg).

Despite its benefits, decentralization has challenges of its own:

  • Mastodon has no control over its users and can’t moderate content like traditional social media platforms.

So, is the little blue bird the next animal to go extinct? Only time will tell.

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