In the wake of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, people have been fleeing in their droves. For some, that means deactivating their Twitter and moving to another social media platform such as Reddit, Instagram, or Facebook. For others, though, that means switching to Mastodon, a decentralised social network made up of millions of instances that all interact with each other. Ireland’s own Mastodon instance, mastodon.ie, has seen just over 5000 new users sign up in the past month, and it shows no signs of slowing.
How it works can appear daunting at first, but really, it’s not too hard to get started. If you go to register on Mastodon through the Mastodon Android or iOS app, it will ask you what server you want to register on. No matter what server you choose, you can still interact with users globally. However, you can also interact with people that are just active on your Mastodon server, too. That’s why the Irish Mastodon instance is so popular currently, as you can interact with other Irish people while still engaging with the wider social network, switching between them with ease.
I asked people on Mastodon why they switched over, and some of the responses I received made a lot of sense and resonated with my own experiences, too.
As for the people behind the project, those are Bernard McKeever, Fionn Kelleher (who may be familiar to those of you who remember when the Irish government misspelled “certificate”), davey_cakes, and detachedspork. I spoke with Fionn to ask about some of the unprecedented growth they’ve experienced recently. He told me that it’s been a crazy time for all involved and that it hasn’t been without its challenges. In Fionn’s case, he’s handling a lot of the financials for the team through its Open Collective donation portal, though he’s worked with the team since early this year.
When asked what the cause of the explosion in popularity was, Fionn felt that it was twofold. For starters, plenty of prominent people from Irish Twitter are starting to create accounts and share their content on Mastodon instead. On top of that, given the recent Twitter layoffs in Ireland, it’s retaliation for Elon Musk’s Twitter screwing over some of our own by putting them out of jobs. The explosion in sign-ups started on Friday when those layoffs were announced, and it seems that it was the final straw for some.
Given the massive influx of users, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. There are definitely growing pains, no less the fact that on several occasions the site has been pretty slow. The team behind the website is currently exploring all avenues for hosting to provide the most stable user experience without any lag or other problems. It’s been going well the past 24 hours, but on Friday evening it was really struggling to keep up with the number of people signing up.
As for the future of Irish Mastodon, it looks bright, but there are obviously going to be reservations for now. It could well be the case that after a period of time people will eventually flock back to Twitter… or give up on short-form social media in that format altogether. I’ve been enjoying it though, and so have a ton of Irish Twitter. If you want to sign up to Irish Mastodon, then be sure to check out the link below.