On Dec 16, Twitter suspended our @joinmastodon account after we shared a link to the newly registered Mastodon account of @ElonJet, an account that broadcasts public flight path data of Elon Musk’s private jet, which was previously suspended from Twitter itself. At the same time, accounts of multiple journalists from major publications such as CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, as well as various independent journalists, were likewise suspended for either linking to the account itself or talking about the event. We also started receiving reports that users were unable to tweet links to any Mastodon servers, including ones completely unrelated to the @ElonJet account, encountering an error message claiming that the links were identified as “potentially harmful”, among them George Takei, making it more difficult for people to share their Mastodon profiles.
This is a stark reminder that centralized platforms can impose arbitrary and unfair limits on what you can and can’t say while holding your social graph hostage. At Mastodon, we believe that there doesn’t have to be a middleman between you and your audience and that journalists and government institutions especially should not have to rely on a private platform to reach the public. Our free and open-source software enables anyone to run a social media platform entirely on their own infrastructure, entirely under their own control, while connecting to a global decentralized social network. Not only does this allow organizations like the German government or the European Commission to run their own Mastodon servers where they publish important information that gets distributed to thousands of their followers across many different Mastodon servers, but it also gives you the freedom to choose a social media provider the same way you would choose a telephone, internet, or e-mail provider, and to move from one to the other while retaining your followers.
While there is no shortage of social media platforms new and old, this is a radically different approach to social media that offers something traditional social media cannot. This may be one of the reasons why Mastodon has recently exploded in popularity, jumping from approx. 300K monthly active users to 2.5M between the months of October and November, with more and more journalists, political figures, writers, actors and organizations moving over. Understanding that freedom of the press is absolutely essential for a functional democracy, we are excited to see Mastodon grow and become a household name in newsrooms across the world, and we are committed to continuing to improve our software to face up to new challenges that come with rapid growth and increasing demand.