Mastodon intends to remain an alternative to Twitter

Twitter rival Mastodon has turned down more than five venture capital investment offers from Silicon Valley in recent months after its founder vowed to maintain the burgeoning social network’s nonprofit status.

The microblogging site, founded in 2016 by German developer Eugen Rochko, has seen a surge in users following Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022 as concerns over the American billionaire’s control of the social network grew.

Eugen Rochko announced Financial Times He has received offers from at least five investors who want to invest in the United States “Hundreds of thousands of dollars” to support the rapid growth of its platform.

But it has a non-commercial status “non-negotiable”, Eugen Rochko notes before adding that his platform’s independence and moderation regimes are important assets. Eugen Rochko summarizes:

“Mastodon is not going to become whatever you hate on Twitter. That it could be bought by a controversial billionaire, that it could be closed or go bankrupt, etc. All this is a difference of paradigms [entre les plateformes].”

In December, Twitter temporarily suspended the accounts of Mastodon and several journalists who published information about Elon Musk’s private jet flights. Twitter lifted a possible ban on links to competing social media platforms, including Mastodon, before backtracking.

2.5 million active users

Eugen Rochko later replied on his blog that this “a frightening reminder that centralized platforms can impose arbitrary and unfair limits on what can or cannot be said.” Before adding that the number of monthly active users on Mastodon fell from 300,000 to 2.5 million between October and November [2022].

Mastodon’s daily downloads rose from 6,000 on Oct. 27, the day Elon Musk took over Twitter, to 243,000 on Nov. 18, according to data from analytics firm Sensor Tower. Other smaller competing platforms [que Twitter]Like Tumblr, it has seen a resurgence in popularity.

Federation of Decentralized Servers

While Mastodon shares similarities with Twitter, it differs from it in its many decentralized servers [ou instances], operates on the basis of independent moderation rules. Users connect to the server, but thanks to this network called “federation”, they can communicate with communities registered in other instances. [appelé en français le “fédiverse”].

Eugen Rochko is Mastodon’s sole shareholder and, according to its 2021 annual report, paid himself €2,400 a month last year – a figure he says has risen by €500 since then.

The platform should continue to be funded by donations. He has more [9 400] Donors on the Patreon crowdfunding site, thanks to which he receives more [31 300 euros] for each month. For comparison, between June and December 2021, the network earned a little more than 55,000 euros.

Registration waves

According to Sensor Tower, the first wave of sign-ups slowed to about 6,000 daily downloads on Dec. 9, but the number of daily downloads increased to 64,000 after Dec. 18 when Elon Musk restricted links on Twitter to other social networks.

new users [de Mastodon] they face some challenges: moderation differences between servers are sometimes confusing, and some servers struggle to cope with the flow of traffic. According to Josh Coles, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute [de l’université d’Oxford]Mastodon can be transformed into a network “satellite” from Twitter”“Seeing activity increase every time Twitter shuts down or an Elon Musk post causes an uproar.”

The ambition shown by Eugen Rochko is that Mastodon replaces Twitter and other commercial social networks in the long term. “The road will be long, but we have never been in such a good position.”

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