Mastodon, the free, open-source, decentralized micro-blogging social media platform, has surpassed a million monthly active users for the first time in its history.
The platform’s explosive growth was announced today by Eugen Rochko, the creator of Mastodon, who noted that almost half of the new users (489,000) joined the platform since October 27, 2022, when Elon Musk’s sealed the purchase of Twitter.
The sudden influx of users to Mastodon is caused by a notable wave of migration from Twitter, as it uses a similar interface and social feed format.
Mastodon features 500-character posts called “toots” arranged in a chronological feed, user tagging (mentions), privacy posting options, a hashtags system, and more.
Some people are leaving Twitter because its new owner, Elon Musk, decided to impose controversial account verification and freedom of speech policy changes, announcing them almost immediately upon completing the takeover.
The new policies brought a measurable rise in hate speech and aggressive trolling as various parties tested the limits of moderation under Elon Musk’s management.
A second, even more, voluminous wave of migration to Mastodon came when Twitter announced massive layoffs of personnel, which didn’t resonate well with the community.
While Mastodon looks similar to Twitter, it’s fundamentally different, operating on a network of self-hosted servers (instances) that each has its own terms, privacy options, and content moderation policies.
The network of individual servers unites under a network of co-existing instances thanks to a federation system, practically allowing Mastodon users from any server to interact with each other.
Thanks to this decentralized approach, Mastodon does not belong to a single person or company, and it’s not operated for profit, so there are no ads, although people may still promote services independently.
However, like Twitter, direct messages to other users on a server are not encrypted and can be viewed by the admins of the server hosting the messages. Therefore, users should not use Mastodon DMs to send private or sensitive information.
Since October 27, 1,124 new servers have been added to the Mastodon network, opening up to welcome new users looking to join.
However, the massive influx of users has created an operational strain on the network, with many reporting issues on the mobile app, account creation verification email, server availability, and more.
Hence, the transition could be smoother for everyone who attempts to join Mastodon, with technical problems added to the otherwise gentle learning curve.
Twitter is undergoing a stormy period of change, and either for better or worse, some of its users will explore alternatives like Mastodon.
Whether or not the user migration to Mastodon will have the duration to shape a new reality in the social media industry or if an entirely new platform will pop up to take advantage of the situation is too early to tell.