Social media network Mastodon has skyrocketed in popularity amid an exodus from Twitter.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter has caused uproar in some circles, primarily those on the Left who fear the billionaire’s new model will result in an unsafe environment for minorities. In their migration from Twitter, some have gone to newer sites like Bluesky or the left-wing Tribel, while others have gone to older sites such as Tumblr or Reddit. But the site that is attracting the most buzz and a surge in users is Mastodon, an “open-source social framework” site that seeks to accommodate those dissatisfied with Twitter.
Its founder, Eugen Rochko, said in an interview with CNN that the network has gained 230,000 users since Oct. 27. “It is not as large as Twitter, obviously, but it is the biggest that this network has ever been,” Rochko said.
The site’s user base is primarily left-wing or left-leaning, the Guardian noted.
The layout and model of the site are also much different than Twitter’s. New users have noted that it takes hours to master the network’s vocabulary alone. Posts are called “toots,” and any of its thousands of connected websites are called “instances,” which are “federated” within the greater “fediverse.” The network is also decentralized in nature; Mastodon itself is a network of thousands of interconnected websites, each with its own moderators.
All moderators of new servers must sign the “Master Server Covenant,” which has as its No. 1 rule that moderators must commit to “active moderation against racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.”
“Users must have the confidence that they are joining a safe space, free from white supremacy, anti-semitism and transphobia of other platforms,” the covenant reads without elaborating on what the network believes qualifies as any of those.
The left-wing outlet Slate described Mastodon in a 2018 interview with Rochko as “the New Social Network Dodging Government Surveillance — and Nazis.”
Mastodon launched back in 2016 but has reached the height of its popularity following Musk’s Twitter takeover last month.