Will Mastodon overtake Twitter?
With the arrival of Elon Musk at the head of Twitter, could the social network be replaced by its competitor Mastodon? This is a question that arose long before the billionaire bought the platform, says professor in the communications department of the University of Montreal (UDEM), Stéphane Couture.
There are several waves of desertion towards Mastodon, he lists. One million followers had left Twitter since Elon Musk bought the platform on November 4. But “as of 2017, we find news on this subject”, reports the student in the master's degree in communications from the UDEM, Chanel Robin.
Ironically, Mastodon tweeted on October 29, having garnered 70,000 new subscribers in a single day. Will this time be the right one? Will Mastodon have enough subscribers to become a real competitor to Tesla's CEO platform?
Mastodon's complexity can potentially be daunting for ordinary people, considers Ms. Robin. Because “first of all, it’s software, it’s not a platform. There are several platforms that are not called Mastodon that use Mastodon software,” she explains.
For now, Mastodon, which is free of rights, has mainly been reused by right-wing media such as Truth Social, Donald Trump's platform, and GAB “which is far-right software”, continues the auxiliary of research, accompanied by her professor.
The decentralization of the software acts like a double edged sword. The registration is more complex, but the more “ethical” side of the thing, doubled to the recent antics of Elun Musk on Twitter continues to make it gain in popularity.
Monday, Jonathan Durand Folco, assistant professor at Saint Paul University, doctoral student in philosophy and “committed citizen and interested in digital issues” encouraged the 2,589 subscribers to his Facebook page to join him on Mastodon, for the ethical side of the software.
As it is a decentralized social network, user data is not stored on servers that belong to private corporations, but rather to non-profit organizations, civic organizations or individuals
Jonathan Durand Folco , assistant professor at Saint Paul University and doctoral candidate in philosophy.
Chanel Robin abounds in this direction: “the bond of trust [toward the server which lodges our data], instead of being blind, will be informed”, she says, since the user of the social network will select himself a server – or “instance” – upon registration. He can then change servers as he wishes.
“There's no one making money off [Mastodon],” says Chanel Robin. The people who make instances there are really people who care about free software. It’s anti-corporate, anti-Facebook, anti-google.”
According to Mr. Durand Folco, once you go through the registration, “the interface and the use are relatively easy to understand” and the functionalities are very similar to those of Twitter.
University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) Media School professor Jean-Hugues Roy had tried Mastodon in 2017. “It was slow and there was no much. Today? It’s always slow and there’s not much,” he says.
Mastodon does not work on “large data centers like Google”, explains Chanel Robin, since the data is housed in private homes.
It’s not just a Twitter replacement, Mastodon has a story and a purpose. Users need to be interested in it too.
Chanel Robin, research assistant and master's student in communication science at UdeM.
Jean-Hugues Roy, he fears that the enthusiasm for Mastodon is only temporary , that it “will fade away when Musk stops doing dismal trial and error with Twitter.”
Professor Couture's thesis is that the software “is going to morph and then something based on Mastodon will emerge. […] One could imagine that there would be a more substantial infrastructure with a slightly different business model than what we know will come out of all this.”
Mr. Durand Folco, Mr. Couture and Mrs. Robin agree: to become more popular, the platform will have to adapt and become easier to understand for the masses.