Online publishing platform Medium, originally created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, today announced that it is adopting the open-source Mastodon platform by creating its own forum to support its authors and their publications. . The company said it is launching me.dm, a Mastodon community that will offer reliable infrastructure, moderation, and a short domain name to make it easier for authors to share their usernames, among other things.
Although launched six years ago, Mastodon has recently gained traction as users flee Elon Musk’s Twitter. Since acquiring the social network, Musk has made a series of controversial decisions, such as reactivating the accounts of white supremacists and former President Donald Trump and banning journalists, amid a reduction in the teams of Twitter moderation. He also toyed with Twitter’s product, promising not to verify users who didn’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 to post their thoughts and engage in public conversations. Mastodon is one of those platforms that have directly benefited from this.
The social microblogging platform has grown to 2.5 million monthly active users in recent days, up from just 300,000 in October 2022. However, the service isn’t exactly a Twitter clone, due to its decentralized nature. Instead of joining “Mastodon” itself, members join communities or instances, which have their own sets of rules, moderation guidelines, and hosting schedules. While this does not preclude a user from following another user on a different community, it is expected that many will choose to join a community that reflects their specific interests – such as tech, music, security, gaming or one of many other topics.
That seems to be the case here with Medium’s Mastodon entry. The company will open Mastodon to Medium writers and readers as an added benefit of Medium membership, creating a place for discussion around Medium content. This will result in “interesting local streaming,” the company explained in its announcement.
Medium also says it will be easier to find people and topics that match their interests when joining Mastodon, as part of its onboarding workflow.
As part of this effort, Medium will create a “sign up with Medium” interface to join Mastodon, which may help address some users’ complaints about difficulties getting started on Mastodon, which can be confusing due to the initial instance. selection process.
While it might seem strange for a longer blogging platform to adopt a platform designed for much shorter posts, Medium thinks it’s worth operating in both spaces.
“We believe Medium’s mission – to deepen people’s understanding of the world by helping to share the best ideas and information – transcends mediums,” company CEO Tony Stubblebine wrote in a blog post. (Williams left Medium as CEO last year.)
“To date, we have focused on writing articles. This is how our company got its name: as a medium-length writing center on the Internet. In contrast, Mastodon is primarily intended for shorthand writing of 500 characters or less… Today, we’re extending what we do to shorthand (lowercase m) support with an instance on Mastodon, me.dm,” he said. he declares.
Medium’s decision to embrace Mastodon isn’t just because it sees the platform as “an emerging force for good in social media,” as Stubblebine wrote, explaining the interest of the company for space.
In reality, companies like Medium could suffer if Twitter were to experience a decline in the Musk era. To date, Twitter has enabled publishers to promote their work, engage in discussions with their readership, and grow their audience. If more writers and readers leave Twitter, platforms like Medium could also lose ground, especially if the writer doesn’t have a strong flow elsewhere on social media. A Mastodon community could help solve this problem by providing a place for these discussions to continue outside of Twitter.
Medium isn’t alone in realizing the need for an alternative to Twitter. Newsletter publisher Substack recently launched a chat feature that allows short chats between editors and readers within its own app. Flipboard also launched a Notes feature last month for a similar purpose. And the CEO of Tumblr owner Automattic, Matt Mullenweg, said in November that Tumblr would adopt ActivityPub, the decentralized social networking protocol that powers Mastodon.
For Mastodon, launching a Medium instance could help boost its numbers even further as Medium today boasts a network of over 100 million readers. Even if only a tiny percentage of those joined Mastodon from Medium, that could represent a decent influx of new “fedivers” users, as networked Mastodon servers are called.
Medium says it will start inviting selected authors and publications tomorrow to be part of an initial group of testers before inviting all writers and readers in the near future.