Hosts of Indian users are migrating from Twitter to open source platform Mastodon Social, which has strikingly similar interface design, amid growing criticism over alleged lack of transparency on the micro-blogging site.
The criticism has grown after Twitter twice suspended the account of Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hedge – once over an image and the second time over a poem he retweeted.
Twitter responded to the criticism on Thursday saying, “There’s been a lot of discussion this week about Twitter’s perceived bias in India. To be clear, whether it’s the development of policies, product features, or enforcement of our Rules, we are impartial and do not take action based upon any ideology or political viewpoint.”
Mastodon, which had a profile on Twitter, sent out a reply and accused Twitter of not caring about transparency. “Publicly traded for-profit corporations have one interest and one interest alone: keeping their shareholders happy. Twitter doesn’t care about transparency, and it certainly doesn’t care about meaningful change that doesn’t translate to increased dividends,” it said.
Prominent Twitter India user, Kerala government functionary James Wilson was one of those who migrated. He said that Twitter’s policies were questionable. “Twitter would shadow ban users and revoke it later. But of late, they are singling out users selectively who are anti-establishment and restricting them. Anti-Muslim and anti-Dalit hashtags were trending and Twitter did nothing,” says Wilson. He added that Mastodon’s safety and anti-troll policy made it a safer space.
Rahul Gandhi or not?
Among scores of new accounts opened was one purportedly of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, which also sent out two ‘toots’ on demonetization and garnered 600 followers in the first hour.
However, the party’s social media chief Rohan Gupta said that neither Gandhi’s or a new account of the party, that had cropped up on Thursday, were authorised ones. “We have reported those profiles. How can anyone appropriate them without a formal communication from the party,” Gupta said.
‘Not locked in’
Due to sizeable migration, Mastodon was trending on Twitter for most of Thursday and continued to be the top trend on Friday, too. Mastodon was created by Eugen Rochko in 2016 and has over 2.2 million users, which is a small fraction of Twitter’s 321 million users.
On September 5, to provide a sense of what he wants the site to be, Rochko has sent out a ‘toot’ saying, “My dream for Mastodon is for it to be a viable choice as a publishing platform for any creator. In other words, for people to not feel like they’re locked in to Twitter or Instagram if they want to be professionally successful.”
An account on Mastodon, which kept a count of users joining the site by sending hourly updates, said there were 3,575,212 accounts by 12:30pm, with 819 users joining between 11:30 am and 12:30pm on Friday.