Twitter Rival Mastodon Losing its ‘Real Opportunity’ as Users Plunge, Says Expert

Image: Mastodon

Mastodon, an open-source alternative to Twitter, has lost over 30% of its active users since the peak and, per one social media strategist, is losing its “real opportunity” to capitalize on the hordes of users swearing off Twitter in recent weeks (via The Guardian).

The platform, which champions decentralization and self-hosted servers, has fallen from over 2.5 million active users in December to about 1.8 million in the first week of January.

Mastodon only had about 500,000 active users before Elon Musk took over Twitter back in October 2022. Some of Musk’s polarizing decisions at Twitter have since sent many of the platform’s users running toward alternatives, and Mastodon was right there to take them in. The Twitter rival had surged to almost 2 million active users by mid-November.

However, social media expert Meg Coffey believes Mastodon’s relative complexity is making it harder for the platform to retain users migrating from Twitter.

“Twitter, in its most basic form is simple,” said Coffey. “You can open up an app or open up a website, type some words, and you’re done. I mean, it was [a] basic SMS platform.”

Mastodon saw explosive growth throughout November. The platform peaked at over 130,000 new users per day, with spikes in traffic often coinciding with some of Musk’s most controversial decisions as chief of Twitter.

“Right around that 5 November, it was a real opportunity,” Coffey continued. “There were a lot of people who were scared, a lot of people who … didn’t want to be in the place Twitter was becoming.”

Since taking control, Musk has significantly shaken things up at Twitter. The eccentric entrepreneur laid off over half of the company’s workforce, overhauled account verification and turned it into a monthly subscription, unbanned former U.S. President Donald Trump, and more. At one point, Musk even suspended Mastodon’s official Twitter account, along with several journalists.

Mastodon, meanwhile, can take some getting used to. Coffey noted that the platform may have simply proved too complicated for many, especially for those seeking to port over their entire communities. Some of these users may have just gone back to Twitter.

“Everybody went and signed up [on Mastodon] and realised how hard it was, and then got back on Twitter and were like, ‘Oh, that’s, that’s hard. Maybe we won’t go there,'” she said.