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Musk Takes Twitter, Rivals Gain New Users

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Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has prompted many users to switch to other social networks with a similar pedigree. A case in point is Mastodon, which saw over 30,000 new user sign-ups in a single day, said Mastodon chief executive Eugen Rochko. The sudden influx of new users has also slowed its servers down.

“Mastodon is slow right now, as far as I can tell because there are twice as many people using it at the same time as ever. I’m working on making it go fast again,” Rochko said in a post on the platform.

Another social networking site, CounterSocial, is having a similar experience and is now upgrading its infrastructure.

“Due to an unprecedented influx of new users, CounterSocial is undergoing infrastructure upgrades. We expect to be back around 9 PM eastern time on April 27,” CounterSocial said in a web post.

Christopher Budd, a security, privacy and communications expert, is among many who have migrated from Twitter for Counter Social. “In light of recent events, I have gone over to CounterSocial and zeroed out my Twitter account,” Budd said in a LinkedIn post. “A number of InfoSec folks are going over to CounterSocial. I’m supporting it by paying for it. I like paying rather than ads, data scraping, and algorithm nonsense.”

Launched in 2016 as a decentralized social network, Mastodon made the headlines in India in 2019 when Sanjay Hegde, a Supreme Court lawyer, said he was joining the site after his Twitter account was blocked. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon allows users to create and host their private Twitter-like networks, called Instances, allowing the creator to set rules and decide who can be part of the network.

Since all networks exist on multiple servers, there is no overarching entity that can target them with ads. Earlier accessible only through a web browser, Mastodon app is now available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

CounterSocial, on the other hand, looks similar to Twitter and claims to be free from bots, trolls, and fake news. It is also ad-free and claims to not mining or selling user data. However, it has shady origins, as it was founded by an anonymous hacktivist going by the name, The Jester, who is believed to have carried out cyberattacks on WikilLeaks, a former Iranian president, and some Islamist websites. It is listed on both Play Store and App Store.

Though Elon Musk has said that his goal is to promote free speech on Twitter, many feel it can have negative repercussions for the platform. The hands-off approach to moderation and allowing people to say anything in the name of free speech can exacerbate the problem of hate speech and fake news, experts warned.

The issues with mainstream social networks has resulted in the loss of users to mainstream networks. For instance, Facebook lost a million daily active users for the first time in 2021, showed its financial results for the final quarter of 2021. Truth Social, a social media platform launched by former US president Donald Trump in February, is also seeing a lot of traction.

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