When you think about mastodons (some people actually do think about mastodons), what’s the first thing you see? A giant, extinct elephant? Well, yes. For some people. But for others, Mastodon is a rapidly growing social media platform named after the abovementioned defunct species (as well as an Atlanta-based heavy metal band).
We Rebels believe that industry disruptions create revolutionary ideas. Mastodon is on pace to do this by challenging the conventional thinking of social networks, and by taking aim at one of the giants: Twitter.
Created by 24 year-old Eugen Rochko of Germany, Mastodon’s primary goal was to disrupt the way we think about — and use — social networking. Rochko was fresh out of college when he decided to build this social network, using open source software. He wanted to create a social network that would limit abuse and trolling, which has become rampant on Twitter.
Keep in mind Mastodon was launched only six months ago with little success — until the last week of March, that is — when Twitter introduced an update that changed the way viewers can reply to tweets, leading to user uproar and, apparently, revolt.
Aimed squarely at millennial users, Mastodon has strict rules in place against gender and racial bias. It also allows users to moderate, enforce, and create its rules. In fact, in a March post, “Learning from Twitter’s mistakes,” Rochko described how Mastodon’s system — in which users “have the ability to choose ‘instances’ with rules and policies that you agree with” — is conducive to “smaller, tight-knit communities less prone to harboring toxic behavior.”
Mastodon is made up of “instances,” which are topics, for example: book lovers, foodies, moviegoers, bots, and many many more. Users create a unique name for each instance and only join instances in which they have interest. However, users can communicate with each other by “tooting” to users across instances.
Users are joining Mastodon at such a startlingly high rate that some instances have shut down to prevent the servers from being overwhelmed. In the first week of April alone they experienced 80 percent growth. And as this piece is written, there are over 414,000 registered users with more than 1,000 instances.
Is Mastodon here to stay? It’s challenging to predict the fate of any species, for sure. But Mastodon promotes itself based on the fact that it does not condone or tolerate racism, sexism, discrimination, or violent nationalism, an attribute that could draw even more users. Will Twitter and other social networks notice? We’ll keep a close eye on the situation, but our guess is they will be taking some notes in any instance…