Why are Twitter users switching to the social platform Mastodon?
Ever since Twitter suspended the account of the Supreme Court lawyer twice, several users of the micro-blogging site have been moving to the alternative social network Mastodon. Several Twitter users, in India and around the world, have taken issue with how the site moderates content, such as hate speech. Hence, people now look earnestly towards Mastodon, an open-source, decentralized platform. Here are more details.
What happened between Twitter and the Supreme Court lawyer?
Mastodon starting drawing attention in India after SC lawyer Sanjay Hegde announced that he's creating an account on the platform. Hegde made the announcement after Twitter suspended his account on October 26 and again on October 27 for allegedly violating terms of service. On Thursday, Hegde sent a legal notice to Twitter, seeking his account's restoration and a public apology for "damaging his reputation."
Here's what Twitter thought 'violated terms of service'
Hegde's Twitter account (@sanjayuvacha) was first suspended on October 26, for posting "hateful imagery." He had shared a 1936 photograph of Nazi Germany wherein a German man, August Landmesser, could be seen refusing to perform the Nazi salute. His account was restored briefly, however, it was suspended again the next day after Hegde retweeted a poem titled 'Hang him' by Gorakh Pandey.
Suspension of Hegde's account led to allegations of political bias
Following the suspension of Hedge's account, several activists, journalists, among others, joined Mastodon. Hegde has represented sufferers of the NRC in court, appeared in a habeas corpus case on Kashmir, along with mob lynching cases. Twitter India responded, "Whether it's the development of policies, product features, or enforcement of our Rules, we're impartial and don't take action based upon any ideology or political viewpoint."
You can read Twitter India's tweet here
Twitter allegedly suppressing voices against government
Notably, internet watchdog Medianama editor told BBC that Twitter "hasn't done enough to address hate speech." Citing a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), BBC reported that Twitter removed a million tweets and blocked around 100 user accounts under its "country withheld" policy. Reportedly, most of the blocked content criticized the government's move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.
So, what makes Mastodon so different?
Launched in October 2016, Mastodon is an open-source network where users can post, comment, publish media, and follow each other, much like Twitter. However, Mastodon is decentralized, i.e., no single entity moderates it. Users create their own servers on Mastodon and each server has its own rules, giving users more agency in picking the policies they agree to. Mastodon has over 2.2 million users.