Elon has pushed 2 million people over to Mastodon, but how long will it last?

(Image credit: Future)

With Elon Musk at the helm of Twitter, we have seen many users jump on and off the ‘ban’ wagon (haha), with others jumping ship to Mastodon. The decentralized social media platform has seen userbase growth from 300,000 monthly active users to a sweeping 2.5 million users between October and November of this year.

The figure was touted by  developer Eugen Rochko in a new blog post on the site in response to Mastodon links being banned and then unbanned on Twitter this week. This user migration is likely to continue until Elon relinquishes control of the beloved site, or at least until his phone dies.

So, because I just love the process of setting up social media accounts and agonizing over the perfect bios, I decided to sign up for Mastodon and dip my toes into what could be the next big microblogging platform.

As a war-torn veteran of Tumblr I went in full of confidence and assuredness that this would be a breeze and I’d be face-to-face with the elephant site in no time. How wrong I was! To begin setting up I had to join a server, a process which baffled me, as you need to set your account up in conjunction with one of the recommended servers in order to move forward at all. 

Some servers can be joined automatically with no hassle, while others require approval from whoever is running the server - something that may take some time if its done manually by the server’s owner. Once that is done, you’re greeted by an empty feed that you have to fill up on your own, navigating an odd timeline.

Mastodon i Android-appen

(Image credit: Mastodon)

On paper it seems like a relatively quick process, but it took me half an hour and a lot of annoyed grunting to get past the initial setup. This led me to the thought: how many people are actually going to go through all of that?  I’m not saying you have to cast spells and solve riddles to set up your Mastodon account, but it’s definitely not as easy as setting up a Twitter or Instagram account. Email, password, verify, boom! Account made.

I think the most aggravating part of the process is knowing how easy it should be and expecting it to feel familiar, then immediately being hit with curveballs at every step.

The account I made is still in its early days and I’m still decoding the site and how it works, but it does make me a little uncertain about the mass move over to Mastodon. The platform is definitely gaining traction and will likely see more growth as the bird app slowly crashes, especially now that their @joinmastodon account has been unbanned on Twitter after a dramatic booting by Musk. 

I’m all for alternatives to social media companies operated by unhinged billionaires, but these smaller platforms may need to think harder about the experience new users will have when signing up. Maybe as more users join we might see changes in the setup process the streamline account creation, but until then, I’m still skeptical.

Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison. Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place. Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).