Mastodon Hits 10 Million Users According to Data Tracker

Decentralized social media platform, Mastodon, has done it according to a data tracker. It has reached 10 million users.

They said it was not viable. Critics proclaimed that it would never take off. They said that the server structure was too confusing. Whatever the criticisms, that didn’t stop the platform from growing to incredible heights. Now, according to one data tracking account, the network has reached the staggering user count of 10 million users. The massive milestone shows that decentralized social media platforms are here to stay.

The statistics was shown on MastodonUserCount, a bot that tracks the number of users, number of toots per hour, instances, and how quickly the user count is going up.

The post was made just moments ago which shows the magical moment the data tracker hit the 8 figure mark:

Apparently, the surge in users started on the 16th and caused the user count to climb much more quickly. This has led to a number of toots noting that the network was growing well in excess of 1,000 users per hour. While it is unclear where the latest surge in users came from, major surges in the past have been linked to Elon Musk blowing up Twitter in many interesting ways. Whether it was being on the receiving end of litigation as a result of refusing to pay the bills, skyrocketing censorship on the platform, mass layoffs of employees, or widespread instability of the platform, or a variety of other issues, Musk’s tenure saw the Twitter user experience suffer in many dramatic ways.

Indeed, many of the poor decision making on the part of Musk can be linked to the growth of Mastodon. Last December, we noted that it was on the verge of reaching 9 million users.

Initial spikes in growth did lead to a number of instances experiencing some sluggish performance. However, by all accounts, the massive and unexpected growth of the platform showed that the platform itself is surprisingly resilient with only, at most, brief moments of downtime as instance owners scrambled to add more processing power and bandwidth to their instances to handle the additional load. Because of this, performance issues have been largely minimized. The same story couldn’t be said for Twitter in its initial rise to prominence. After all, when Twitter experienced its massive growth, the platform experienced downtime and the famous “fail whale” for months as network operators struggled to keep up with demand. It’s a comparison that many have noted already.

For many users who migrated from Twitter to Mastodon, the differences in overall experience wound up being very notable. Many users have noticed just how much less hyper-partisan the platform is. What’s more, people are generally a lot friendlier and, well, civil, than what Mastodon user refer to as the “bird site”. On Twitter, you have the hyper-partisan political hashtags pushed on users with seemingly everyone in a contest to say the most anger filled or outrageous tweet. On Mastodon, you have much more relaxed conversations and trends like “Caturday”, “FollowFriday”, “cycling”, and “retrogaming”. Yes, some political hashtags to pop up, but in my experience, this only happens on occasion rather than 24/7. Plus, those instances are usually popping up along with non-political trending hashtags.

One of the themes I’ve been hearing on Mastodon is that the atmosphere reminds them of the early days of Twitter when it was a much more relaxed environment. Some have actively wondered if that positive and relaxed environment can be sustained as more and more users choose to make Mastodon their new home. Well, this goes back to the actual structure of the whole platform.

The whole platform is decentralized and is moderated by the many instances that exist today or will pop up tomorrow. It’s an interesting answer to the whole “moderation at scale is impossible” where you decentralize the whole platform and let instance owners handle the moderation. This won’t mean that the system automatically solves every problem that the platform could possibly face, but it could be a better way forward than a centralized system. Obviously, time will tell for sure, but based on the early signs and what we’ve seen so far, Mastodon definitely has a real shot at, at least, improving the situation.

Another criticism of Mastodon is that nothing can ever go viral on there. Put it another way, Mastodon is horrible at discovering stuff and if you want to make a name for yourself, Mastodon is a terrible place to try and make that happen. My personal experience so far is that the quality of engagement is generally a lot higher than on Twitter.

On Twitter, I’ve seen a number of users follow me, but trying to get interactions, it felt like I had to manipulate trends to try and gain any kind of attention at all. After that, the users then leave right after and I felt like I was back at square one. My efforts to try and gain a following of any kind was always a struggle despite putting high quality content on the platform. My theory is that it was frequently drowned out by the constant firehouse of the rage machine of right wing politics.

Meanwhile, on Mastodon, I ended up getting a whole lot more user interactivity. People are responding positively to my talking about video games, I’ve had users offer very useful suggestions and ideas for news coverage (thanks for bringing up the history of the CDA with respect to the push for age verification by the way!) and one user even voluntarily (!) approached me and offered a suggestion that would correct some of the automated toots I was publishing. I didn’t have to jump on any bandwagon to get that interactivity and, as a result, it felt like time on Twitter and not on Mastodon was increasingly becoming wasted time. The impressive thing is the fact that my experience isn’t even that unique, either.

So, seeing the growth on Mastodon isn’t even that big of a surprise to me, though the rate is certainly eyebrow raising as that exceeds a lot of people’s wildest expectations. Every platform that I personally join (and, looking at the sidebar, I’ve joined a lot of platforms) is a gamble in hopes that I can extend my reach. These days, Mastodon is looking to be the second best bet I’ve ever made – second only to YouTube, though not by much. It may not be life changing yet, but joining Mastodon is definitely one of the decisions I least regret so far.

With that, the future is definitely looking bright for Mastodon. As the growth continues, it’ll make it increasingly easy to find a community to associate with. Does it have to be the worlds biggest platform to be a great place? Absolutely not. For now, though, it really feels like the sky is the limit for Mastodon. Congratulations to the Mastodon community!

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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