Mastodon growth update

TECHNOLOGY

Mascot of the federated social media network Mastodon

It’s becoming increasingly clear that if any system is going to replace Twitter in the next few years, it’s going to be Mastodon (including other platforms that can integrate with Mastodon “fediverse”.) So, how’s it going?

It’s still very early in the game, so we can’t be too precise about the details. It’s clear that there’s a lot of movement towards Mastodon. But what we haven’t seen yet is a flood of “celebrity” accounts that have massive Twitter followings. With each passing day, people with large Twitter followings are appearing on Mastodon, but we’re still nowhere near a tipping point. Most of the “big followers” ​​names have created Mastodon accounts but are not actively posting.

What is a User?

It’s a chicken and egg thing. With 3 million to 8 million (depending on which numbers you prefer) active users, Mastodon doesn’t have a critical mass of users to attract the big players. However, in the next 90 days I expect to see many of the big names cross-posting on Twitter and Mastodon. In other cases, there will be bots that replicate Twitter posts to the Mastodon network. These are all small steps in the migration. It will appear to move slowly until critical mass is reached, and then you’ll see things turn 180 degrees to where Mastodon is the main presence. This can take 12-18 months, or even longer, but once the critical mass is reached, it will change quickly.

Here’s an article that seems pretty knowledgeable about the user base. This is almost a month old, which is an eternity in this space, but it was most recently updated. absolutelymaybe.plos.org/…

Noteworthy highlights.

  1. The “user” statistics on all these systems are suspect. Remember, Musk claimed that a large part of Twitter was bot traffic. Also, there are many dormant accounts on Twitter, just as there are many new “placeholder” accounts on Mastodon that have yet to be used.
  2. The Mastodon architecture has thousands of instances and some users have multiple accounts, which exaggerates the numbers.
  3. Beware of the “active users” statistic. There is no consistent definition for this.
  4. The article makes a very important point about Mastodon “off-grid” instances. The code is open source, so if you want you can set up a private social network. That’s exactly what Truth Social did, although Trump lied about it until he was exposed. These numbers should not be counted because these users will not be using the system in the way that Twitter has historically been used.

Having said all that, it’s unquestionable that Mastodon is growing very quickly – and some of the most popular instances have had waiting lists for months while they add features to support the local user load. Mastodon recently surpassed the half-billion daily posts level. That’s still a lot smaller than Twitter, but half a billion posts a day is pretty impressive. According to most reports, the number of active users increased about 10 times during 2020.

And again, that’s without a huge number of personalities and organizations that people would want to follow. However, there are many Mastodon accounts that now have hundreds of thousands of followers. For example, Robert Reich has 199k followers. George Takei has 324k followers. This is happening and moving fast. Imagine how it will grow when Barack Obama, Taylor Swift, Ellen Degeneres, LeBron James and Oprah Winfrey become active on Mastodon, and they will.

What is the cost?

Today, most Mastodon instances offer free accounts. And most don’t have advertising right now. Mastodon does not have algorithms that promote products or views that can be sold to the highest bidder. So how can this be sustainable?

Well, it’s probably not sustainable in a totally free model. However, it’s important to understand that a person can run an instance of Mastodon without spending a lot of money, which begs the question of how Devin Nunes managed to accumulate over half a million dollars in unpaid bills on his deadbeat Trump account.

Here’s an article by a guy who set up a server on Amazon’s AWS and is spending less than $100/month: www.micahwalter.com/… Now, if your server takes off with hundreds of thousands (or millions) of accounts, it probably spend several hundred dollars a month, but with a large user base, that amount would be easy to cover based on donations.

What is the next?

We need to see Musk fail miserably and demote Twitter to the level of Parler and other hate speech sites. The infrastructure is advancing rapidly. The main obstacle now is the chicken and egg thing. We need to encourage people we follow to start posting on Mastodon so that new users find a rich ecosystem as soon as they arrive.

PS

Hate group websites (Parler, Truth Social and others) appear to be in rapid decline. Reports are that Truth Social’s active user rate has dropped to half of its high point and continues to drop. DWAC (Digital World Acquisition Corporation, the SPAC entity that was supposed to acquire Truth Social is one of Trump’s scams) is now trading at $17, which is just above its liquidation value. It is clear that the site is going to waste. In this case, SPAC was created with a lot of promises from investors, but most of the money was never put on the table and never will be. I hope Trump never sees a penny of this scam. And if I were Nunes, I would check my bank account to see how much overdue paychecks are running.

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