No “neutral” platform: Mozilla opens waiting list for Mastodon instance

Five months after Mozilla announced a public instance for the Twitter alternative Mastodon, there is now a waiting list for it. Anyone who would like to have an account on can sign up to help set up the instance. At the same time, the US organization responsible for Firefox and Thunderbird explained that there was one important point in which it should be handled quite differently from the other major social networks: They weren’t building any other supposedly “neutral” platforms. On, the right to free speech is not interpreted to include harm to others. One would rather do too much to protect the people active there from hate speech, threats and harassment.

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The Twitter alternative Mastodon has been in development since 2016 and after Elon Musk took over the role model, there has been tremendous growth. In absolute terms, the network is still significantly smaller than Twitter, but because many particularly active users are switching, there is now noticeably more going on there. Mastodon is part of Fediverse (from “Federation” and “Universe”), a collection of decentralized services that federate content with each other, i.e. have joined forces to exchange content with each other. Together they form a counter-model to the strongly delimited commercial platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Unlike other social networks, Mastodon is not controlled by one company, but is made up of many large and small entities that can communicate with each other. They are operated by private individuals, companies and organizations. They can adjust the appearance there and also set the rules that apply to it. On some instances there is only one account, on others there are dozens, hundreds or even hundreds of thousands. The largest so far is called and is run by Eugen Rochko. The developer of Mastodon. Mozilla can be trusted to build a counterweight with its own instance, but the organization wants to make preparations until then.

Initially, won’t look much different than anywhere else on Mastodon, Mozilla’s Steve Teixeira told The Verge. The only difference will be when it comes to setting the rules, so the organization wants to use a mixture of manual and automated work for moderation. But there are also plans to pimp Mastodon beyond that, because the protocol deserves some love, especially with the user interface, as Teixeira puts it. They are also interested in improving account verification. In the long term, they also want to work on connections to other networks, primarily to the growing Twitter alternative BlueSky.

Again, Mozilla praises the Fediverse as a whole, of which Mastodon is only a part. The open network shifts power away from the big tech companies and into the hands of diverse voices building a social platform that serves the needs of the people, not shareholders. Mozilla hopes that it will also provide a home for public services that cannot be taken away by a single person or small group. He is referring quite clearly to Twitter and Elon Musk, who recently sold public broadcasters and organizations such as weather services there.


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