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Decentralized social media platform Mastodon: Growth Challenges and Future

Mastodon is a decentralized social media platform that was founded in 2016 by Eugen Rochko. It was created as an alternative to mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The platform runs on Ruby on Rails, and it is open-source and user-controlled. The creation of Mastodon was motivated by the desire to create a decentralized entity that would be free from centralized control and have its own set of rules.

Its architecture allows users to create their own servers, which is unique in the social media landscape. Despite Mastodon’s notable features, the platform has faced several challenges along the way.

The most prominent of these challenges is its moderation issues. Mastodon has worked to address this as it is committed to providing a safer environment for users.

In 2019, the platform improved its moderation processes and blocked several instances (communities) for violation of its terms. Another challenge that Mastodon has had to deal with is harassment.

As an open-source platform, Mastodon does not have a central management team that can monitor its contents. This has made it challenging for the platform to control harassment, especially on the instances.

Mastodon has also faced backlash from its users over migration from platforms like Gab which has more extremist content. In 2018, Gab was blocked by several hosting platforms, which led to mastodon instances becoming popular.

Some users of the platform felt that this influx led to the platform’s governance structure being decentralized and hard to maintain. Mastodon has been popular for its decentralized nature, and this has made the platform grow in user numbers.

Some famous figures like Elon Musk expressed their interest in the platform. The European Union also showed an interest in a decentralized social media initiative, which urged more use of Mastodon.

Despite this growth, confusion has arisen in users as they are required to differentiate between instances and servers. The open-source protocol known as ActivityPub has played a significant role in Mastodon’s growth.

This protocol allows different servers to communicate with each other, irrespective of their programming language. It has served as the building block for many decentralized social media platforms, including Mastodon.

The ownership structure of Mastodon is interesting. Mastodon gGmbH was formed in 2018 and is a non-profit company that controls the brand and licensing of the open-source software.

Eugen Rochko holds a stake, and the company is funded by donations. Shareholders do not hold any significant authority over its operations or the platform.

However, some questions have arisen about ownership that could change the direction of Mastodon. Since Mastodon gGmbH is a non-profit,there is no potential for shareholder profit.

If Mastodon were to go the for-profit route, an angel investor may help fund more alterations to the platform. In conclusion, Mastodon has risen to be a notable social media platform, and its growth has been huge.

It has enabled decentralized social media, which gives the users more authority in controlling their content. However, Mastodon has, over time, faced some challenges that the company has had to strategically address.

Mastodon, as a user-owned entity, has created a unique community and a more secure space for interactions. As it is open-source, it gives the broader community the chance to create their own versions, which can increase growth and diverse experiences for users.

In conclusion, the article explored the founding, growth, and potential future of Mastodon. The platform’s decentralized nature has led to unique challenges, including harassment and moderation issues, but also allowed for user control over content.

Mastodon’s open-source protocol has played an essential role in its growth, and its ownership structure as a non-profit led by Eugen Rochko provides a unique governance model. As Mastodon continues to grow, its focus on user control and safety will continue to be essential.

The takeaway is that platforms like Mastodon provide a glimpse into an alternative social media landscape that prioritizes user privacy and agency.

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