Decentralised social network Mastodon Social sees user base double in two weeks as Elon Musk Twitter takeover raises questions for future
Decentralised social network Mastodon Social said it has more than doubled its user base since the completion of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter a little over two weeks ago.
Eugen Rochko, the German programmer who created the service, said on Monday that Mastodon had reached 1,028,362 monthly active users, with 489,003 of those joining since 27 October.
“That’s pretty cool,” he wrote in a Mastodon post, known as a “toot”.
Twitter’s future has become uncertain since Musk took the reins, with the entrepreneur removing most of Twitter’s executive team, dissolving its board of directors, beginning mass layoffs that he said would cut at least half of the site’s 7,000 workforce, and saying he would charge $8 (£7) per month for verified accounts.
Concerns have also arisen over Twitter’s content moderation policies under Musk – who calls himself a “free speech absolutist” – and a reported decline in engagement by prolific users, which could have a direct impact on the service’s bottom line.
As a result a number of high-profile companies have suspended advertising, saying they will wait to see how things develop.
The turmoil is also spurring users to experiment with alternative platforms, and Mastodon has been one of the highest-profile beneficiaries.
— Sinéad Crowley (@SineadCrowley) November 4, 2022
But Mastodon differs from Twitter in key ways, the main one being its decentralised structure, which can make it complicated for users who’ve never used such a system.
Mastodon is actually a protocol that anyone can set up on their own server, which then links to the other Mastodon servers.
That means the servers that make up the network can be operated on a small scale, without requiring large amounts of income to pay for their resources.
Mastodon doesn’t display advertising and isn’t owned by any central organisation, meaning it can’t be bought or sold as Twitter has been.
After 1 week on #Mastodon, the biggest diff I notice is the way each network makes me feel.
Twitter: “Why are ppl so horrible to each other?”
Mastodon: “There are so many interesting & cool ppl in the world!”
It’s changing my perspective of social media. #TwitterMigration
— Sheril R. Kirshenbaum (@Sheril_) November 6, 2022
But this structure can make it more complicated to use than Twitter.
Rather than signing up on a central website, users must first choose a server to join. Their feed displays posts from users on their own server, as well as from across the network.
Some new users expressed frustration with figuring out how Mastodon works, while others said they were enjoying the contrast to Twitter.
“It’s changing my perspective of social media,” wrote one user.