Mastodon, a social media alternative to Twitter, has reportedly become the source of woke infighting and journalistic "gatekeeping," much to the amusement of media critics and Twitter CEO Elon Musk himself.
After Musk began enacting new policies on the site, including reinstating banned accounts such as former President Trump, several prominent people announced they would be moving to Mastodon in protest. As more journalists moved onto the site, however, there were more reports of blocking, attacking and outright banning of users over political issues.
In one case, former Slate podcaster Mike Pesca was suspended from the popular Mastodon "instance," or server, for verified journalists called journa.host after linking to the New York Times story on the negative consequences of puberty blockers on children. Transgender blogger Parker Malloy attacked Pesca and complained that the "anti-trans content" was not removed from the network. According to the New York Times, Pesca was soon informed that, "he had been suspended for referring to Ms. Molloy as an 'activist,' which was dismissive."
"I had to join Mastodon to get called a bigot by @ParkerMolloy because I said a well reported NYT article complicated a common claim around puberty blockers. Seems a huge difference from Twitter," Pesca tweeted on Saturday.
Malloy was subsequently suspended from journa.host for calling transgender journalist Evan Urquhart a "bootlicker."
With several similar stories of self-proclaimed moderators making arbitrary decisions, Twitter users have been joking that Mastodon has become a den for "hall-monitor" journalists.
"Among the many irritating things about Mastodon is that it enables status-chasing journalists to gatekeep their peers by judging whether they have enough clout or are useful to other people's career ladder-climbing," digital media consultant Heidi N. Moore tweeted Sunday about an article on journa.host.
FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver replied, "Mastodon seems like a honeytrap for hall-monitor personality types. Honestly if Elon gets all the hall monitors to migrate to Mastodon that might be his greatest contribution toward the betterment of humanity."
Musk himself responded to Silver’s post tweeting, "What could be more fun than a social network consisting entirely of hall monitors!?"
In a separate tweet, he wrote, "Hope all judgy hall monitors stay on other platforms – please, I’m begging u."
"Mastodon is the woke lib journo circular firing squad hell pit they always wanted Twitter to be," Twitter user Comfortably Smug joked.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted, "Over on Mastodon - the obscure refuge to which liberal journalists are fleeing in fear of free speech even though they can't figure it out - they're already banning each other over the most trivial infractions. It's like a laboratory to study how censorship-happy rats behave."
"Shocked to see the kinder, gentler twitter is equally full of drama," Blocked and Reported podcast's Katie Herzog tweeted, while her co-host Jesse Singal said, "[T]his meltdown really just reinforces all my preexisting views about this entire censorious crew. Let them have their dumb Mastodon instance so they'll leave the rest of us alone."
"Mastodon is already a [colossal] failure, with all the wokes reporting and suspending each other," researcher Eli David wrote.
"Mastodon is hell. And it’s a hell in which every moderator can read your DMs and if they deem you to be talking behind their backs you will get banned. It’s the inverse of Twitter, where people can publicly make fun of @elonmusk and not get banned for it," journalist Ian Miles Cheong declared.
Several journalists and media pundits offered "final" tweets late last week in the belief that Twitter would be shut down due to Musk’s policies and mass firings. CBS News even announced on Friday that it would be suspending its use of Twitter due to the "uncertainty." The media outlet returned to the account less than 48 hours later.
However, some journalists have continued to defend Mastodon as a viable option. New York Times' Joseph Bernstein reported that many members claimed the site was just like Twitter without "the nastiness."
"Many journa.host members use the service no differently than they use Twitter, sometimes posting the same text simultaneously to each platform," Bernstein wrote. "Indeed, at times, journa.host looks a lot like Twitter, just without all the non-journalists and most of the nastiness."