tl;dr: Mastodon is not Twitter, and that’s great for many reasons, but I have no idea what, if anything, will end up filling the giant void that’ll be left when the birdsite disintegrates.

I’ve found a happy new home in the Fediverse, but I find myself wondering what the broader effects of Twitter’s implosion will be. Navigating Mastodon’s federated nature is a stumbling block for lots of people. I do wonder what will come of it next, but I am liking how much interest there genuinely is for networks not controlled by a single entity.

A federated network really can’t compare with the reach afforded by an entrenched, centralized platform. It’s a lot harder to get in front or even find a lot of diverse new people without platform-wide virality and algorithmic gaming. It’s fundamentally a different type of network, and folks who are reliant on it for their audiences aren’t going to have a good time with it going away. The low friction of a centralized network for people to join and content to reach them just can’t be beat.

Things may change if the Fediverse reaches a critical mass, but I don’t see that happening (at least not anytime soon). Twitter’s fall is going to leave quite a void to be filled, and I’m not sure what will end up claiming it. Worst case, nothing does for a long time, and a lot of social organization is going to struggle with being siloed away for a good while.

Maybe Twitter will somehow recover, but it’s hard to imagine it will without its staff. I’m wondering if it’ll end up remaining as a company, but be forced to pivot to different software as the current platform degrades with lack of maintenance and experts to guide new development. Given it’s scale, though, I don’t really think that’s a tenable option either. What’s it going to do, attempt to ETL everything into an unfederated mastodon fork?

I wouldn’t have known how to find other trans people without Twitter. Maybe I’d have eventually found some weird FB groups (or worse, reddit), but none of the other options are built for those communities to find their ways in front of you without deliberately seeking them out.

So, yeah, regardless I’m most worried about the social impact all of this will have. Twitter was pretty instrumental to a lot of recent cultural awareness, uprisings, unionization efforts, and other such things. If it does collapse, I’m not sure what’ll come of it. It’s a trash-filled hellsite for sure, but it’s also been an incredibly powerful tool.