Twitter Exodus and the EEE Playbook

Is Mastodon where Twitter ex-pats seek refuge after the Musk take-over? The Tesla-gazillionaire’s acquisition has been a drama beyond the imagination of any script-writer. First Musk made an unsolicited bid to take Twitter private, then he pulled out, but was forced to see it through and made a weird pun carrying a sink into the main office. Next thing, he fired lots of employees, rolled back years of work on suicide prevention, anti-harassment and human rights, switched to a Monty Python-inspired business model and triggered a flood of memes. One user with verified status changed their ID to ex-president Donald Trump and immediately pronounced same man dead. It was a mess and it is only getting messier each time Musk tries to micro-manage it.

Is there a need for an online “town square”? If Twitter used to be the answer, it would appear that is no longer the case. So where do people run to? Mastodon seems to be the flavour of the month. In contrast, it is a not-for-profit, grassroots-driven service where each server is connected to the others in what is called the Fediverse. Anyone can start a Mastodon-server and set their own rules for publication, but other servers may choose not to link to troll servers. Perhaps this is a recipe for a better conversation online – fewer trolls, less algorithm-fuelled toxicity, zilch surveillance capitalism.

Netopia has joined a server called, feel free to follow as almost 2000 others have already.

The real threat to Mastodon might not be the trolls, but the Silicon Valley EEE-playbook: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. Ycombinator’s Hacker News has a good thread that explains the process (this is also where I learned about EEE!). Rather than head on attack or acquisition offers, Big Tech suffocates its challengers by integrating them. Let’s see if Mastodon becomes the decent town square it hopes to be. There is no lack of starry-eyed internet nostalgia in the way the fans talk about it. Bring back the old de-centralised web. Will Mastodon follow the all-too familiar path of centralization and re-intermediation? Will it be a flash in the pan, smothered by FAANG’s embrace? Or will it be able to learn from and avoid those mistakes that have so often be made?

We’ll see, in the meantime Twitter employees are jumping ship as Musk demands a “loyalty oath”. Perhaps they will start Mastodon-servers?