Amid an allegation of caste-based bias and content moderation against Twitter, many Indians are now looking at its lesser know rival, Mastodon. In fact, Mastodon was among the top Twitter trends as people announced their new accounts, while encouraging others to do the same.
Mastodon is very similar to Twitter or Tumblr where users can make their profiles and post messages, images or videos on the platform. They can also follow accounts that they want. However, while one ‘tweets’ on Twitter, on Mastodon the users ‘toot’ with up to 500 characters.
Meanwhile, what is drawing people to it is the fact that it is a decentralised open source platform, meaning there is no one server, company or a person running it. Instead, users can create and run their own servers. Hence, Mastodon is made up of many servers, with each having its set of rules. Users can choose to interact just within these specific servers or with all servers across the platform. The network has no ads. There are also no blue tick verifications on the platform.
While exactly how many Indians have opened accounts on Mastodon as part of the trend is unknown, Mastodon early on Friday, in a tweet, said, “We are seeing a lot of interest and activity in the current migration to Mastodon.”
On Mastodon, its founder @Gargon or Eugen Rochko, in a ‘toot’ invited applications for a moderator who speaks Hindi for mastodon.social team. “Must uphold our code of conduct, must stick around on Mastodon, some monetary compensation is included,” he said.
Sanjay Hegde issue
The upsurge in the trend to move from Twitter is mainly attributed to the suspension of Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde’s account by Twitter. Mr. Hegde told The Hindu that Twitter had brought in a PR disaster on itself by refusing to listen. He said that apart from a junior official of Twitter no one else spoke to him. And this official too “talked down” to him.
Mr. Hegde said he may or may not return to Twitter, and that Mastodon, “Thankfully, right now it looks free of the toxic hate that threatens to overwhelm Twitter India.” Mastodon was a federated experience and its moderators would be among users themselves, he observed.
“Twitter is behaving indifferently on suspension of Sanjay Hegde's account. It seems they are toeing the government's line alone. There is no space for an alternate narrative on Twitter, so it is only obvious that users will switch to other platforms,” DMK MP from Villupuram V.C. Ravi Kumar – who was among the first MPs to join Mastodon, said.
Meanwhile, an official account of Rahul Gandhi also popped up on Mastodon with toots on the three year anniversary of demonetisation. However, Rohan Gupta, social media in-charge of the Congress said, “That's not our official account. We have reported to the platform informing them that it is not us. We were surprised to see verification of Rahul Gandhi's account without following any authentication process.”