The crisis at Twitter has led to explosive growth and interest in Mastodon, a community-run and organized alternative to Twitter. And 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.
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 corporatized social media that 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 support.
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.
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Mastodon is Open Source software (like WordPress) that allows people to access the Fediverse. Groups can create and manage their own servers for Twitter-like discussions, but with better moderation against hate speech, misinformation, and without ads and algorithms controlling what you read. That’s CoSocial.ca.
Social media companies like Twitter and Facebook took the revolutionary promise of connecting people across boundaries…and turned it into something that feeds us a narrow and skewed perspective of the world around us. With Mastodon, you join an online community where you can participate in conversations, connect, and share with others.
What makes Mastodon different?
- It’s a network of connected servers, called the Fediverse, instead of one site that a single company controls
- Most Mastodon servers are small volunteer projects, non-profits or co-ops that are owned by their members
- Each server can set its own rules to protect members and provide a unique experience
- You can belong to (almost) any Mastodon server and still have conversations or get info from servers all over the network
Mastodon has unique features that make it more inclusive and more robust than any other social network. Instead of relying on a single company or person, Mastodon is a federation of servers that interconnect and share information. You can follow and read posts from anyone on any other Mastodon server, which creates the potential for a much richer social media experience than ever before. And Mastodon is just one part of what’s known as the Fediverse….so a Mastodon server is like a gateway to a galaxy that opens the door to an even larger universe of online conversations and information.
In just a few weeks Mastodon grew from less than 400,000 users to well over 4 million. At its current rate of growth there might be millions more active users by the end of the year.
But this growth could stall if people have frustrating or negative experiences because there’s no safe, reliable home for them on the network. To harness the Mastodon moment, we need to do social media differently. We need to make an online home for Canadian Mastodon users that’s reliable, democratic and inclusive.
We can do social better
Most Mastodon instances are run by individuals as passion projects. But running a Mastodon server costs real money and real time. As Mastodon continues to grow, we expect big companies to set up their own servers with corporatized, ad-driven social media—just like it’s been in the past.
In order to do things differently, servers need to be managed professionally, and supported financially, by their members. There will always be people who will run their own servers, and this is a core part of what makes Mastodon unique, but to absorb the tide of people coming from Twitter, we can’t rely entirely on people who are donating their time and money to the cause.
We need professionally and ethically managed servers where members support the instance with their own money and time. We can’t go back to free social media services where people and their data are the product.
It’s time for Canada to take the lead again
We’ve never seen greater momentum for an Open Source, decentralized network—one that isn’t owned by any one person or company. We see an opportunity to do social media better. We’ve seen what went wrong with other networks. That’s why we want to create a Canadian Mastodon co-op, owned and run by its members.
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 the 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.
Join the CoSocial.ca community
We can only foster a democratic and accountable Mastodon network if we create the CoSocial.ca co-op in a way that reflects values of inclusivity, diversity, respect and kindness. So we aren’t launching a server today: We’re convening a community and conversation that can co-create this co-op together.
Currently, we are a community service cooperative. In other words, a non-profit. Our board is small but mighty and a number of leading tech folks in the community have stepped up to be a part of this.
Some of the folks that are helping:
- Core leadership is Alka Tandan (Director), Boris Mann, Evan Prodromou (Director), Jai Djwa (Director) and Tim Bray