Mollejuo AR Studio > Blog > knowledge > Mastodon is the unintentional social network for journalists
  • Joe
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When social networks appeared during the mid 2000s, there were a few of them: MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Twitter, LinkedIn. The initial three on the list were gossip based, LinkedIn is for professionals, while Twitter didn’t know its place … yet. Instagram didn’t exist, and when it showed up, it was a photo sharing app.

With time, the imposed 140 limit of twitter attracted a section of creators who are good with words: Journalists. In turn this fact attracted the main audience of this profession: politicians. Thus, twitter found it’s place on the social network hierarchy as the place to serious talk and dissemination of information: news, political announcements, scientific, etc.

But we all know what happened to twitter…

The current Twitter situation is leaving journalists in a precarious position, as twitter is no longer the platform it was, but there isn’t a platform to migrate, especially given the network effect necessary for a social network to function.

Mastodon was created on the mid 2010’s with the idea of replacing twitter/facebook. It has intentional limitations to spread harassment and hate, which -sadly- became the norm of the two major social networks. However, even with the -current & future- chaotic state of twitter, neither journalists nor politicians have migrated -in mass- to any other social network, they have stuck with twitter.

Threads has entered the chat

As usual in life, there’s not a single factor that causes a change, is several of them. So … Meta took advantage of the Twitter chaos and created Threads, which is a twitter clone. At the same time, Meta has very nasty accusations on them: monopolistic, responsible for incitement of hate, insurrection, etc. In short: Meta’s products (Facebook & Instagram) have become non pleasant to use. Such a situation is not sustainable in the mid-term, let alone long term.

Mastodon to the rescue

Meta is using Mastodon as their escape valve to many of their problems, by way of their Threads app and adopting the ActivityPub protocol, which is the one Mastodon uses. ActivityPub is an open protocol, and while Mastodon is the main users, it’s not the only one.

Meta is working very hard to integrate Threads with ActivityPub, with the aim of having both social networks to talk transparently between them. This means Thread’s users can see and interact with toots from Mastodon users and vice-versa. Obviously, Meta is not doing this effort out of the goodness of their heart, but due to strategic reasons, like:

  • Monopoly: By having Threads talk to an open protocol, Meta can’t be accused (specially by the EU) of their network being closed to 3rd parties
  • Speech: Due to the toxicity in their platforms, Meta made the deliberate decision to limit the news and political content in their properties (i.e. Facebook, Instagram & Threads). By doing so, they can’t be accused of all the nasty things they were previously accused of, and the users experience improves. But… by making Threads talk to Mastodon, then Meta can point to users and say: you can interact with that type of restricted content with Mastodon users. Fulfilling the void while at the same time not being responsible for it.

News media & politicians new home

Mastodon is decentralized by design; it behaves like an email server. And like email, you can choose which one you want to use, and those messages will be received/sent to other users on the email network.

For journalists, using Meta’s products is not realistic as their main content to broadcast will be limited due to Meta’s business model. However, these journalists can have a Mastodon account, which in turn can communicate with the Threads app, making everybody happy. Yes, it’s more cumbersome that having just one Twitter account. But those times are gone, this is the new normal.

Therefore, a small media group (TV, newspaper, blog, etc.) for example, can establish their Mastodon instance (a.k.a server), on which they can freely put whatever they want. In turn, Mastodon and Threads users can consume this content without any type of censorship (aside from the user itself).

Likewise for politicians. Today, those entities are beholden to Twitter rules, however, if -for example- the Canadian government establish their Mastodon instance, then only the Canadian government control these instances, nobody else. All this with the added strategic benefit of such a thing, different than depending on whatever Twitter decides.

Social networks are here to stay, we just need to adapt to the times and go with the flow. Ohhh and Bluesky? nope, Meta’s is not going to put any effort into that. Had Bluesky not take as long as they did, I would have been writing the same article interchanging the word Mastodon with Bluesky. Today? Dead on arrival.

You can follow us in Mastodon.

Image prompt: An elephant in a sabana with an small blue bird on top of it

Author: Joe