Twitter’s recent decision to rebrand itself as “X” in line with owner Elon Musk’s preferences has caused a stir, leading many to question the impact on the social media giant’s brand. Meanwhile, Mastodon, an open-source alternative to Twitter, is experiencing a significant increase in user numbers. The founder and CEO of Mastodon, Eugen Rochko, recently announced that the platform’s monthly active users have reached 2.1 million, nearing their previous peak. This surge in popularity for Mastodon users can be attributed to several factors, including Twitter’s missteps and the renewed interest in decentralized social networking powered by ActivityPub, the protocol behind Mastodon.
Mastodon User Increases Amid Twitter’s Missteps
After Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the platform witnessed an exodus of long-time users dissatisfied with his implemented changes. From layoffs to questionable product strategies, many users sought alternatives, including Mastodon. Consequently, Mastodon’s monthly active users peaked at 2.5 million during the months of October and November. However, not all Twitter users stayed with Mastodon, causing the numbers to decline to 1.7 million at the beginning of the month. Other emerging Twitter alternatives, like Bluesky, T2, Spill, and Post, may have also captured some of the displaced users. The recent move by Twitter to enact rate limiting and reduce the visibility of tweets further frustrated users, potentially contributing to Mastodon’s renewed growth.
ActivityPub and Polished Third-Party Clients Driving Mastodon’s Momentum
The increase in Mastodon’s user base may also be attributed to the growing interest in ActivityPub, the decentralized social networking protocol that powers the platform. The integration of ActivityPub by Meta’s Twitter rival, Instagram Threads, brought attention to Mastodon and decentralized social networking as a whole.
In addition to protocol popularity, Mastodon’s rise is bolstered by the emergence of polished third-party clients. These apps, developed by former Twitter third-party app makers such as Ivory, Woolly, Mammoth, and Radiant, have made using Mastodon more enjoyable and accessible. Their availability has led to higher adoption rates and increased posting activity on the platform. Furthermore, the support from other tech companies like WordPress, Medium, and Flipboard, which have integrated or launched their own Mastodon servers, has added to Mastodon’s appeal, attracting users from various online communities.