The crisis at Twitter in late 2022 has led to explosive growth and interest in Mastodon, a community-run and organized alternative to Twitter. In just a few weeks Mastodon grew from less than 400,000 users to well over 4 million, this sudden growth has presented all of us with a unique opportunity to do social better, by providing Canadians with a safe, reliable home on the network.
With CoSocial, we have the opportunity to reimagine social media as a force for justice, equity, and inclusivity in Canada and around the world. We have the opportunity to turn back from a decade of corporate social media that has divided and exhausted us with hate speech, misinformation, and information overload. We have the opportunity to create a new kind of online community in Canada—with your leadership and involvement.
Equally important, we want to create a stable and reliable place on the Fediverse for people to call home. A place for connection and conversation. A safe place were we can all come together and build a community.
Cooperatively-run to do social better
We believe servers need to be managed differently than the current corporately-owned and ad-driven social media. Currently most Mastodon instances are run by individuals and small groups as passion projects, yet running a Mastodon server take time and costs money. While there will always be people who will run their own servers, and this ethos is a core part of what makes Mastodon unique, we can’t rely entirely on people who are donating their time and money to create a new forms of social media.
As a result, CoSocial is incorporated as a community service coop following the seven cooperative principles and based on the cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. We can only foster a democratic and accountable Fediverse if we as a coop operate democratically, reflecting the values of inclusivity, diversity, respect and kindness. We are member-run: our governance is made up of a small core team of members active in working groups and serving on our board of directors. Membership is open to any resident of Canada over 18. Members pay a membership fee (which includes the purchase of a $10 share in the coop) and are able to participate in the day-to-day running of the coop and vote at our annual general meeting (AGM).
It’s time to take the lead again
Mastodon has strong roots in Canada. The protocol that connects the servers on the Mastodon network, as well as the larger “Fediverse”, was first developed by identi.ca (led by CoSocial’s Evan Prodromou). As one birthplace of the Fediverse, Canada has a wealth of expertise on Mastodon’s core technologies, and the credibility to influence the evolution of the Mastodon community and culture.
Our population and geography are big enough to support a large community of users, but small enough to imagine social networking done right.