It’s no secret that a growing number of Bitcoiners are unhappy with Twitter. A mix of perceived censorship through shadow banning and lack of serious action being taken by the platform to remove the notorious ether giveaway bots have aggravated calls for a decentralized alternative to the existing social media goliath.
Although members of the community had been vocal about this for awhile, it seems that recent moves like the unexplained temporary suspension of BHB Network’s Giacomo Zucco yesterday or the simultaneous purging of Infowars’ Alex Jones’ content by other social media platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Facebook and Apple have finally catalyzed the transition.
Enter Mastodon, the distributed social media platform. Mastodon is both very similar to and very different from Twitter. At a glance, one might be forgiven for mistaking it for TweetDeck. Many of its features have been cloned, including the ability to tweet (or “toot”), retweet (“boost”) and like (“favorite”). Some enhancements have been added in, including more granular privacy controls and up to 500 characters available for microblogging.
Where the platform really shines is in its lack of centralized oversight. Instead of users congregating around a single website, Mastodon is divided into “instances” — smaller communities that set their own rules around content and users (not unlike subreddits). Individuals registered with one Mastodon instance can communicate with users of another and have the ability to switch between a “local timeline” (seeing toots from users in their instance) and a “federated feed” (curating content from other instances).
The exodus from Twitter to Mastodon began with a number of users moving to the most popular instance, mastodon.social (boasting upward of 170,000 users). However, Opendime’s Rodolfo Novak has since gone on to create bitcoinhackers.org, an instance which, according to its “About” page, is dedicated to Bitcoin maximalists with “no scams, no shitcoin, no impersonation, no begging and no illegal content.”
Thus far, it has generated a considerable amount of interest, nearing 800 users at the time of writing and repeatedly ranking in the top 10 most active instances per hour. It remains to be seen whether these numbers will continue to climb. The general sentiment appears to be that Mastodon will be used either in tandem with Twitter (an app for cross-posting across both platforms is currently being propagated) or as a backup network for users that have been banned from it.