Once Elon Musk took control of Twitter in 2022, a slew of tweets from celebrities, journalists, and a variety of blue checkmarks appeared, announcing users were quitting the popular social media site for a “safer” alternative. This promised land was known as Mastodon. But, unfortunately, like the “we’re all moving to Canada” pledge people made when Donald Trump won the 2016 election, the grandstanding appears to be all talk and no walk.
PC Mag discovered that Mastodon, a decentralized social media platform, is not growing despite the alleged exodus. In fact, the number of active users has dropped by 30% following a surge around the holidays. 2.5M active users were on the platform in December, but as of the beginning of January, that number has dropped to around 1.8M.
Meg Coffey, a social media strategist, blames Mastodon’s dropping numbers on the site’s less-than-intuitive signup process. Where Twitter is relatively straightforward regarding making an account and tweeting, the alternative is allegedly more painful. Based on some videos I found online, it doesn’t appear to be that much of a task, but Mastodon asks you to join individual servers rather than being in one massive pot with everyone else.
Another reason people may be fleeing the promised land is that Mastodon has a pedo problem. Cybersecurity website Secjuice led an investigation into Mastodon and found that this alleged social media haven is not just a place for those who disagreed with Musk but also a safe place for pedophiles and child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Due to Mastodon being a decentralized social network, it is less likely to be moderated effectively, if at all.
Mastodon started in 2016, and according to Secjuice, the site saw a significant surge in users during the Spring of 2017, which they called “the great paedophile invasion.” The community of around 160k blew up to about 300k during this time, and along with it came a flood of CSAM, mainly from Japan. Oddly, the number of active users didn’t start a decrease until 2022.[Source: PC Mag] [Source: Secjuice]
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