Medium embraces Twitter alternative Mastodon by launching its own community • TechCrunch

Medium embraces Twitter alternative Mastodon by launching its own community • TechCrunch

Medium embraces Twitter alternative Mastodon by launching its own community • TechCrunch

The online publishing platform Medium, originally created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, announced today that it is embracing the open-source platform Mastodon, creating its own instance to support its authors and their publications. The company said it is launching me.dm, a Mastodon community that will offer robust infrastructure, moderation, and a short domain name to make it easier for authors to share their usernames, among other things.

Though launched six years ago, Mastodon has recently gained traction as users flee Elon Musk’s Twitter. Since taking over the social network, Musk has made a number of controversial decisions, such as re-enabling the accounts of white supremacists and former President Donald Trump and banning journalists, as he cuts content moderation teams on Twitter. He’s also toying with Twitter’s product by promising to unverify users who don’t pay for the service while alienating advertisers, putting Twitter’s future at risk.

This left a subset of Twitter users looking for new places that could serve as a place to post their thoughts and engage in public conversations. Mastodon is one of those platforms that has benefited directly.

The social microblogging platform has grown to 2.5 million monthly active users in recent days, from just 300,000 in October 2022. However, the service is not exactly a Twitter clone due to its decentralized nature. Rather than joining “Mastodon” itself, members join communities or instances that have their own rulesets, moderation guidelines, and home timelines. While this does not prevent a user from following another user in another community, many are expected to choose to join a community that reflects their specific interests, such as technology, music, security, gaming, or one of many other topics.

This seems to be the case with Mastodon Medium’s entry. The company will open Mastodon for Medium writers and readers as an added perk of Medium membership, creating a place to discuss Medium content. This will create an “interesting local channel”, the company says. Medium also notes that it will be easier to find people and topics that match your interests when joining Mastodon as part of the onboarding process.

As part of these efforts, Medium will create a “sign up for Medium” interface to join Mastodon, which would help address some users’ complaints about difficulty getting started with Mastodon, which can be confusing due to the instance selection process.

While it may seem odd that a longer blogging platform includes a platform designed for much shorter posts, Medium believes it’s worth working in both spaces.

“We believe Medium’s mission – advancing people’s understanding of the world by helping them share their best ideas and best information – goes beyond the media,” CEO Tony Stubblebine wrote in a blog post. (Williams left Medium as CEO last year.)

“So far, we’ve focused on writing long articles. This is how our company got its name: as the home of medium-length writing on the Internet. Mastodon, on the other hand, is primarily used to write short forms of 500 characters or less… Today we are expanding what we do to short medium (lowercase m) with an instance on Mastodon, me.dm,” he said.

Medium’s move towards Mastodon is not just because it sees the platform as “an emerging force for good in social media,” as Stubblebine said.

In fact, companies like Medium could suffer if Twitter experienced a decline during the Musk era. Until now, Twitter has served publishers as a way to promote their work, engage in discussions with readers, and grow followers. If more writers leave Twitter, platforms like Medium may also lose their grip if the writer doesn’t have a strong flow on other social media.

Newsletter publisher Substack recently addressed this issue by launching a discussion feature that allows short conversations between writers and readers in its own app. Flipboard also launched a Notes feature last month for a similar purpose. And Tumblr Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said in November that Tumblr would adopt ActivityPub, the decentralized social networking protocol that powers Mastodon.

However, in the case of Mastodon, launching an instance of Medium could help further increase readership as Medium today advertises a network of over 100 million readers. Even if only a small percentage of them joined Mastodon Medium, that could mean a decent influx of new fediverse users.

Medium says it will begin inviting selected authors and publications to the early test pool tomorrow, before inviting all writers and readers in the near future.

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