Social Media

The Latest Social Network Trying To Be Twitter Has Great Timing

But will Mastodon last?

Social Media
Illustration: Vocativ
Apr 05, 2017 at 11:47 AM ET

Teenagers no longer think Facebook is cool and Twitter seems to be on a mission towards self-destruction — it could be the perfect time for a new social network to come shake things up a bit. But even though there have been several others that’ve made an attempt (see: App.net, Ello, Diaspora and Peach), they’ve all failed. The latest to try rebuilding social media is Mastodon.

Mastodon — which has been around since November 2016 — is an open-sourced social network that looks and acts very similarly to Twitter, except with a few differences: stars are still used to “Favorite” things, posts can be up to 500 characters rather than 140, individual posts can be set to private and they’re called toots instead of tweets.

The Twitter clone has been getting a lot of attention lately since Twitter keeps releasing one unpopular feature after another and has had trouble with trolls and harassment, giving users enough reason to go searching for alternative places to share their unsolicited thoughts. Since last week, Mastodon’s network grew by 73 percent to 41,793 users, according to The Verge.

Mastodon was developed by 24-year-old Eugen Rochko, who was also unhappy with Twitter’s updates and decided to build something similar from scratch. He named it Mastodon after the popular metal band, but the site’s mascot is nowhere near what’s considered metal. It’s just a cute, happy mastodon.

Rochko has managed to keep the site running by setting up a Patreon account, which lets users donate money and help fund Mastodon. However, the site has been starting to run slow due to the high amounts of subscribers it’s been getting.

“Due to exceptionally high traffic, registrations on this instance are closed until quality service can be assured for existing users,” reads a message on Mastodon’s about page. Rochko told The Verge the site had  just about 24,000 users in six months, but since Twitter’s updates the site has been getting hundreds of new users per hour.

Mastodon is clearly appealing to more than just early adopters, but along with new users, the site’s flaws are starting to surface as well. Much like on Twitter some users have already started raising concerns about anti-harassment tools, no real business plan and the lack of users — which leads to pointless discussions about how people think the site could work.

On the other hand, some users like Mastodon since it’s reminiscent of Twitter circa 2008 and simply because the new POTUS is yet to get on it.