- A new report published on Friday found that the #TwitterMigration shows no signs of slowing down.
- In the midst of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, users are joining other social networks like Mastodon.
- Mastodon is growing by approximately 1.5 million new users per month, as per Dewey Digital.
A new report is helping visualize the changes many Twitter users face as both new and old social media platforms vie for their attention. The movement has been dubbed the #TwitterMigration, a hashtag referring to users relocating to other online communities.
Twitter has always been chaotic but it has been even more so in the midst of Elon Musk’s turbulent takeover. Since Musk closed the $44 billion deal to purchase the bird app, he’s shared conspiracy theories, antisemitic rhetoric has spread rapidly, and users will soon have to pay $8 to be verified on the platform.
In response to his antics, users are either maintaining their accounts and starting new profiles elsewhere or moving to other social networks entirely to share their thoughts.
The movement shows no signs of slowing down, according to a report published on Friday by Dewey Square Group, a political consulting firm.
‘If people are leaving, where are they going?’
Tim Chambers, a principal and project lead at Dewey Digital, the media arm of Dewey Square Group, told Insider that his team wanted to understand what’s exactly driving the exodus.
“When I saw the recent events occurring with Elon Musk’s purchase and the sort of chaos ensuing on Twitter, it was really important for us to be able to see if people are leaving, where are they going?” Chambers said.
Chambers’ team used data from Twitter and made their conclusions based on users who added alternative social media accounts to their Twitter bios, public tweets from users asking people to follow them on different social media platforms, and app downloads over the same time period from October 24 to November 22.
The group found that Mastodon — an app described as “social networking that’s not for sale” by its website — is steadily growing by approximately 1.5 million new users per month. Since Musk’s takeover, Mastodon account names have been added to the Twitter bios of more than 90,000 users and mentioned by users nearly 200,000 times in the last 30 days, as per Dewey Digital.
“This is by far the most of any of the emerging social platforms,” the report said.
Mastodon was created in 2016 by Eugen Rochko, a German software developer. In an interview with Time Magazine, the 29-year-old said he began coding Mastodon after becoming irritated with Twitter. “I was thinking that being able to express myself online to my friends through short messages was very important to me, important also to the world, and that maybe it shouldn’t be in the hands of a single corporation,” Rochko said.
The platform is an open-source, free social network that’s decentralized, which means there is not one individual server, company, or person running it. “It was generally related to a feeling of distrust of the top-down control that Twitter exercised,” Rochko said.
On November 6, Rochko tooted — Mastodon’s version of tweeting — that the network had hit 1,028,362 monthly active users. “That’s pretty cool,” the founder said. Twitter has about 237 million total users.
‘It just shows how easy it is for everyone to just migrate to another platform’
Molly Jong-Fast, a special correspondent at Vanity Fair and podcast host, recently made the switch to the app in November. When asked how it compares to Twitter, she told Insider, it’s “not quite as light and easy to use, but it’s 44 billion dollars cheaper.”
“It just shows how easy it is for everyone to just migrate to another platform. I feel like that’s the lesson of Mastodon,” Jong-Fast said.
Jong-Fast has one million followers on Twitter and said while she doesn’t have plans to leave the app, she will if Musk continues down the path he’s going. In the days after Musk’s official takeover, online trolls flooded Twitter with more than 50,000 tweets containing the “N-word” and other forms of hate speech.
“I would rather not support nefarious causes so as soon as there’s a good alternative, I’ll go there,” Jong-Fast said.
Adam Davidson, a writer and journalist, has had Mastodon for four years but began actively using it in the last few weeks. He told Insider that Twitter was bringing out the worst in him and he wanted to explore other social networks. “Twitter fundamentally monetizes engagement,” he said. “And I feel like this [Mastodon] is really focused on conversation.”
—Adam Davidson @firstname.lastname@example.org (@adamdavidson) November 7, 2022
Davidson created a server on Mastodon solely for journalists. The server has already surpassed 1,000 users but Davidson has run into some complications. He told Insider, upon making the server, 184 trolls signed up and began spewing vile, hate-filled messages towards those in the group. As an admin, he was able to moderate the hate speech and blocked these users from posting.
Another challenge that’s come up is some server admins approaching him with concerns about not wanting reporters to mine the social network for stories or sources — something that frequently happens on Twitter.
“Mastodon historically has been a lot of academics, a lot of activists, and not a lot of journalists,” Davidson said.
While there have been a few hiccups, Davidson said overall, Mastodon provides a number of benefits Twitter doesn’t, such as access to people having expert conversations without the hostility that’s become normalized on the bird app.
Dewey Digital will conduct another report in the near future. Chambers told Insider that Twitter executives should be monitoring the migration trends.
“I’m watching very, very closely, and I imagine teams inside Twitter are as well,” Chambers said.