Medium Launches Its Own Mastodon Community, Embracing Twitter Alternative

Today, Medium announced its embrace of Mastodon with the launch of me.dm: a new open-source platform featuring reliable infrastructure, moderation and short usernames to make it easier for authors to share their works. Founded by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams in 2012, Medium is now taking its publishing capabilities one step further with this community initiative.

Since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, users have been flocking to Mastodon as he continues to make questionable decisions such as re-enabling white supremacist and former President Donald Trump accounts, reducing moderation teams and threatening to un-verify nonpaying users. As a result of these changes, advertisers are alienated which puts the social network’s future at risk. Launched six years ago, Mastodon has recently gained traction due to growing dissatisfaction with Twitter.

Twitter users seeking an alternative have been drawn to platforms like Mastodon, which have directly benefitted from the shift. Here they can post their thoughts and engage in public conversations.

Social microblogging platform Mastodon has seen rapid growth, jumping from 300,000 monthly active users in October 2022 to 2.5 million today. Unlike Twitter, it’s decentralized; members join communities (or ‘instances’) with their own rules and moderation guidelines rather than joining Mastodon itself. This means that while people can follow someone on a different community if they like, many will choose an instance which reflects their interests – such as tech, music or gaming – for a more tailored experience.

Medium’s Mastodon entry is an added benefit of membership, allowing writers and readers to discuss content. This will create an “engaging local feed,” according to the announcement.

Medium states that its onboarding workflow will make it easy for users to find people and topics of interest when joining Mastodon.

Medium will create an easy-to-use “Sign Up with Medium” interface to join Mastodon, addressing user complaints about the confusing instance selection process when getting started.

Though it may seem unusual, Medium is embracing shorter-form posts and longer-form blogging. They believe operating in both spaces is worthwhile.

“Medium’s mission to deepen understanding of the world through sharing the best ideas and info is enduring,” commented former CEO Tony Stubblebine in a blog post.

“We’ve long focused on longer articles. That’s what our name is all about: medium-length writing online. But Mastodon’s main purpose is shorter writing of 500 characters or less… Now we’re entering the short-form world, making an instance on Mastodon – me.dm,” he said.

Medium’s embrace of Mastodon is driven by the platform’s potential to be a “force for good in social media,” as Stubblebine stated.

Medium and Substack are both recognizing the need to find alternatives to Twitter. Substack recently unveiled a discussions feature for writers and readers within its app, while Flipboard launched Notes last month as well. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg announced in November that Tumblr would adopt ActivityPub, a decentralized social networking protocol used by Mastodon.

Mastodon’s launch of a Medium instance could further increase its user base; Medium currently has over 100 million readers, so even just a small fraction joining Mastodon’s “fediverse” would make an impact.

Tomorrow, Medium will invite select authors and publications to test out its platform before opening it up to all writers and readers.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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