Not moving to Canada or Mastodon, I’ve been on Twitter too long
9 January 2023
Josh Nicholas, writing for The Guardian, about a recent decline in active members on social network Mastodon:
The number of active users on the Mastodon social network has dropped more than 30% since the peak and is continuing a slow decline, according to the latest data posted on its website. There were about 1.8 million active users in the first week of January, down from over 2.5 million in early December.
Aside from grumbles about Mastodon being difficult to use, I think a lot of people are wary of having to start over again somewhere else. If Twitter had ceased to exist, gone off-line, members who wished to remain active on a micro-blogging service would have no choice but to find a new platform, but that hasn’t (yet) been the case.
I joined Twitter in 2007, as did many of the people who follow me. Today some of those people have tens of thousands of followers, something that would’ve entailed considerable time and effort to achieve. The prospect of leaving that behind, and rebuilding their following on another service, would be daunting.
Despite Mastodon experiencing a growth surge in recent months, and making headlines in the process, membership peaked at about two and a half million accounts in December 2022. This compared to Twitter’s 368 million monthly active users at the same time. Some people moved on, but plenty stayed back.
Anyone then looking to start again would have found barely any of their Twitter followers on Mastodon, rendering a move questionable. So much for the Twitter members who threatened to depart, to “move to Canada” so to speak, after Elon Musk assumed ownership. In the same way some Americans, unhappy with the prospect of Donald Trump becoming U.S. President, declared they would migrate to Canada, in the event he won office. Ultimately few, if any, made the move.
While some Twitter users might have gone to Mastodon, or another micro-blogging service, or left social media behind all together, their numbers were limited by the looks of it. Staying on, rather than starting from scratch, turned out to be more appealing. Twitter had a way of retaining members, sitting — out of sight — up its sleeve, all along.