The Trump and Mastodon affair is embarrassing a whole series of newspapers, and precisely those newspapers that have tried to hide the existence of the fediverse from their readers.
We understand well what "mastodon" is, first. You know social networks as large monoliths controlled by a single company. And all these monoliths do not communicate with each other: a twitter user does not communicate or cannot follow a facebook user, a youtube user cannot comment on instagram, etc.
Imagine that there is a protocol capable of "federating" different entities together. In this way, if you are registered on a small social network, you can still communicate, follow, and everything else, the users of another social network.
If you imagine that there are thousands of these "small social networks", which communicate with each other, the result is that you have a kind of large social network, which however is not a monolith and does not have a large computer system at the center.
This federation exists, and is called in jargon "Fediverso". Mastodon is one of the platforms that federate in the fediverse. For a list you can go here:
It works that you sign up on one of the many servers, and you are in because the server is federated to the others.
Already a few years ago Trump and his (Andrew Torba) had used Mastodon to make gab.ai, after the first software had proved insufficient.
Byoblu di Messora also tried it, for the five stars. But the result was bad: since their users were annoying, harassing, vandals and spreading falsehoods, all the platforms and pods (including the one I manage) had "defederated" them, that is, they had burned the bridges that allowed the their users to communicate with the entire fediverse.
Normally, in fact, a software of the fediverse offers the administrator the possibility to break the ties with some known annoying ones:
That said, why is it in the papers this time?
There are several factors. The fediverse is growing, and Mastodon is one of the platforms that grow the most:
And over time the traffic also grows:
The same happens to other platforms that include the fediverse (some are similar to facebook, others to youtube, others to instagram, etc): for the platform like the one I manage a pod, the traffic is this:
If you look at the numbers you notice how Mastodon is much more used, Pleroma is in the minority, even if it has some advantages in terms of privacy and so I use that for my 14 users.
Good. What has Trump done wrong this time? The fact is that he took an opensource software that obliges you to publish the changes and declare the origin of the software, and declared it "owner", as if it were his own, as well as "closed code". Then he made us a company that immediately totaled a value of 400 million dollars on the stock exchange.
There is, therefore, a lot of money at stake. And so the Free Software associations have sent Trump the usual "cease and desist", which forces Trump to stop doing what he does and:
- state that it uses Mastodon as software.
- publish all the motivations made to the software (which the press calls algorithms) and make them public.
the deadline is 30 days. Then you go to court.
So far, all simple to explain. Trump is a crafty parasite and messes up out of sheer ignorance.
That said, the big platforms are scared. They are mainly afraid that in Europe someone (meaning the legislator) will choose this model as a model to implement part of the European ecosystem.
So, since it is the big platforms that send most of the traffic to the newspapers on the web, and since they are also the ones that provide the advertising revenue, then the newspapers do not explain well what the fediverse is. Because the master forbids it.
So now the newspapers are in the extravagant situation of having to describe the fact (they have already mentioned it) but they cannot explain what Mastodon really is, because their masters are sorry: at the moment, the public has not the faintest idea of what the fediverse is, and the American masters are fine with it.
It makes you laugh, thinking that if this trend continues to grow, they will soon find themselves with a new owner, whom they just don't know how to please.
And it is always very nice to see the Italian press, a pile of rubble from the worst of the 90s, writhing in its own contradictions: contradictions that have very ancient roots.