The subject that dominated this week’s IT news was Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. Walking in with a sink, declaring it a free spech have full of fun and comedy. Then throwing out half the staff plus and charging for verified status and visibility hasn’t endured Elon to his critics. On the other side removing the toxic nature, bots and finacially stabilising Twitter is an almost impossible job. Time will tell whether this remarkable man can achieve it..
In truth we have been watching this from the sidelines. We quit Twitter last year well before Elon surfaced because it was just becoming increasingly toxic. What this week has done, with thanks to Elon, is highliighted an alternative – Mastodon.
Mastadon is far from a Twitter clone. It has superficial similarities but the ethos could not be more different. Technically it isn’t a monolithic entity like Twitter. It is a decentralised network of autonomous interconnected servers (instances). Each having its own code of conduct and the ability to limit or isolate instances that become toxic. Some instances are specialised for photographers or iT nerds – others may reflect other interest and others are more general. You join an instance but can enjoy, follow and respond to members on other instances. If you get it wrong you can migrate to another instance.
On the upside is that most will find it far more friendly. Timelines will now be filled with what you want to see and not what an algorithm wants you to read (often pretty awful designed to provoke). Plus no distracting ads .
On the downside creating an account means choosing a server. With thousands to choose from this is not straightforward. Plus at this time the most popular servers are suspending new registrations to avoid being overloaded by the hundreds of thousands migrating from Twitter.. It has at the time of writing about 1 million active users compared to 200+ million on Twitter. That platform will, for the foreseeable future, be remain to be the home to most celebrities, politicians and influences despite some high profile defections.
Will the upsurge on Mastodon be a two week wonder with disillusioned users returning to Twitter or the beginning of a new worldwide social media environment?
The answer may be determined by Elon himself. The fundamental issue of Twitter is to become financially stable or it will eventually die or become subsumed into another social media empire.
Brainstorm’s instance can be found at social.brainsys.com
- Joining Mastodon https://joinmastodon.org
- Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastodon_(software)
- Elon’s take on Mastadon https://www.snopes.com/fact-check
- Mastodon founder interview https://time.com/..
- Following Twitter users without ads https://nitter.net