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Decentralized Twitter Rival Onboards 100,000 Users, But Does Musk Have a Point?

3 mins
Updated by Michael Washburn
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In Brief

  • Mastodon, a decentralized alternative to Twitter, gained 110,000 users after Elon Musk limited Twitter post views.
  • Unlike Twitter, which uses AI to curate feeds, Mastodon users choose topics to follow using hashtags.
  • Apple recently removed decentralized Twitter rival Damus from its app store, sparking criticism from tech leaders.
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Decentralized Twitter alternative Mastodon gains 110,000 users as artificial intelligence bots scraping Twitter feeds rankle Elon Musk.

Web3 social media company Mastodon saw a massive uptick in users after former CEO Elon Musk announced limits on post views to limit AI scraping.

Twitter Alternative Mastodon Boasts It Doesn’t Need Artificial Intelligence

On July 2, one day after the Twitter ban, Mastodon’s creator Eugen Rochko confirmed the 110,000 new sign-ups. 

Mastodon is a Web 3 social media app running on thousands of computers instead of centralized servers. However, according to TechCrunch, admins do exert some control over users registered on their machines. Users can also be locked out if their server goes down.

Unlike Twitter’s AI-driven tweet curation, Mastodon users must explicitly tell the platform which topics they want to follow using hashtags. 

Musk announced a new policy last week to reduce posts users could see to limit data scraping by AI bots. He indicated that it was “galling” having to bring servers online to serve AI companies’ data-harvesting practices.

ChatGPT maker OpenAI declined to say how much data its fourth Generative Pre-trained Transformer language model uses. Its earlier GPT-3 model reportedly was trained on about 570 GB of data.

Read here about the best AI image-generators.

Spotify agreed to limit bot access to its music catalog upon request from Universal Music Group earlier this year.

Users slammed Twitter’s attempt to create revenue through a subscription service it rolled out to reduce impersonation. Common criticism included how easily anyone could set up a fake account if they paid the fee. 

Mastodon rides Musk's artificial intelligence concerns but have a long way to match user base.
Twitter’s Monetizable Daily Active Users Between 2017 and 2022 | Source: Statista

Twitter later stopped the service, but it remains to be seen whether high-profile backlash over Musk’s latest stunt will force a rethink.

Is Damus More Censorship-Resistant?

Apple removed decentralized Twitter rival Damus from its app store last week, sparking criticism from Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and former Twitter executive Jack Dorsey. Dorsey previously gave 14 Bitcoin towards developing the Nostr protocol, that Damus relies on.

The Nostr protocol doesn’t ask the user for an email address when signing up. Rather, it leverages Nostr’s cryptographic key-pair technology. Moreover, Damus transmits messages through decentralized relays, which can reportedly filter out spam better than servers. 

Additionally, the social media app allows Bitcoin tipping over Lightning, Bitcoin’s P2P micropayment layer. Apple criticized the platform for using Bitcoin to bypass the tech giant’s policy that all monetization follow its in-app purchase policies.

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Top crypto platforms in the US | February 2024

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...
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