On the last Sunday of 2019, an earthquake shook Twitter in Spain. Many users of leftist ideology denounced that the social network was closing their profiles to censor them. One of the most influential users is perhaps
Profe Rojo, also known as
Al otro lado del muro, who also reported the facts. During 2019 the social network of the bluebird had already closed his account three times, so he announced that he would migrate to Mastodon.
Knowing that they had an alternative, users organized around the hashtag #YoMigroaMastodon to show their rejection of Twitter and their jump to the free and federated social network Mastodon. Mastodon began to receive a lot of users, especially in mastodon.social, the flagship instance. So much so the hashtag was used by administrators to recommend newcomers to register in instances that are more in line with their interests. It’s great to see that instances in several languages were recommended, in this case mastodon.eus for Basque, mastodont.cat for Catalan, and mastodon.madrid for Spanish.
The arrival of new users is always good news for free software projects and federated networks, but just as it brings good things it also has its negative side. The arrival of a multitude of users to mastodon.social and not to other instances of the network shows that many of them arrived with no understanding about how this social network works. Some people thought they had reached a “Twitter without rules”, specially several groups defining themselves as TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist), began to publish transphobic toots. Mastodon.social banned this accounts and Eugen Rochko, the lead developer had to toot a message supporting the rights of transexual people:
There is a precedent with an instance called Gab, which has been excluded by almost all the Mastodon instances and mobile apps due to its tolerance with users of far-right politics, especially neo-Nazis and supremacists. This case created a wide discussion about human rights and freedom of speech but as most people hopefully hate fascism Gab is almost an isolated instance. I agree with isolating harmful instances like Gab. Obviously I support freedom of speech but who believes in democracy cannot be indifferent, because it’s not about discussing with fascism, it’s about destroying it. Fascism must not be tolerated in democracy.
Basque community also has it’s own instances where most of the messages are in basque and it’s where we build our own code of conduct and common initiatives. We have a reader’s club and we’re also talking about roleplaying in the network. I’m interested in developing a Mastodon bot in Golang and deploying it in a Raspberry Pi, I have some ideas on my mind. As this post explains very well, this is why Mastodon rocks! People don’t look for likes, retweets or followers, it’s not the place to follow celebrities, it’s the place where we build our community.
But as we are fediverse citizens, we always welcome people, also those newcomers of the
#YoMigroaMastodon tsunami. As we’re not asshole-proof, a user called
@DonMitxel_VI began tooting stupidities and insults against the rest of the network users, it was the first banned account in mastodon.eus. The behavior of almost all migrants was good, but seeing that large number of messages in Spanish in the timeline of our Basque instance was strange. Anyway, a couple of days later everything has become as usual again.
I would like to finish this post with some thoughts about it. I think the arrival of all these new users is good but most of them came out of censorship and they thought they would come to a Twitter clone, so I guess that most of them will return to the social network they came from. Those who are returning to Twitter because they saw Mastodon as an uncensored Twitter did not understand anything, but we cannot blame them because this is one of the intrinsic consequences of Twitter, where a culture of TweetStars that drag tides of people prevails. Everyone who encourages Twitter users to join Mastodon should make a communicative effort to make them understand how Mastodon works right from the beginning.
The good thing is that some of the newcomers will feel comfortable in this multicultural network where each instance has its own behavior, users will stay and contribute. I think that massive arrival of so many people is very complicated and greatly disturbs community dynamics, so I want to congratulate users and administrators for their great work, they have welcomed new users helping to solve their doubts and keeping the focus on the culture of their instances. We are never prepared to receive so many diverse people massively, but it has been demonstrated that instances are capable of managing this thanks to their strong cultures.
All of you are welcome to the different instances of Mastodon, here you have a list of safe ports so that you can choose the one you like the most and start to interact with other buccaneers. You can reach me at @joseba@ mastodon.eus if you want to interact with me in Basque or at @email@example.com for English, Spanish or Catalan. I also post pictures at @firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, read carefully the code of conduct of the chosen instance and participate, all of us are willing to share our interests, create new initiatives and weave our networks. Good winds, buccaneers.