Mastodon User Base Doubles Amidst Twitter Uncertainty

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”.

Image credit: Mastodon

Uncertainty

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.

Decentralised network

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.

Complexity

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.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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