Tag Archive for ‘The Guardian’

The Active User Narrative

Mastodon Project Website

Josh Nicholas, writing for the Guardian:

The number of active users on the Mastodon social network has dropped more than 30% since the peak and is continuing a slow decline, according to the latest data posted on its website. There were about 1.8 million active users in the first week of January, down from over 2.5 million in early December.

The article is titled “Elon Musk Drove More Than a Million People to Mastodon – but Many Aren’t Sticking Around” and the paragraph above is the lede. It paints a dire picture for Mastodon.

But then we get to this bit:

There were about 500,000 active Mastodon users before Elon Musk took control of Twitter at the end of October. By mid-November, that number climbed to almost 2 million active users.

Wait. Over the past three months, Mastodon went from 500,000 users to 1.8 million and they’re spinning this as a bad thing because it didn’t continue to climb or maintain its peak? That’s completely absurd.

There are going to be peaks and valleys. And you can’t expect any social network to maintain its peak number of active user when there’s a massive surge like this. Anyone could have told you that it wouldn’t last. But the important point isn’t that it didn’t maintain its peak. The important point is that the number of Mastodon users has grown 260% in three months.

That’s a tremendous accomplishment. And not just for Mastodon, but for ActivityPub, open source, and the health of the open web. That should be the lede.

Matt Hauger shared a couple of graphs charting Mastodon’s active user numbers. And it illustrates how the state of things looks drastically different depending on where the timeframe begins. And while I agree with him that I’d prefer to see the trend line curving upward, I think it’s dishonest to frame the situation with such a pessimistic bend like Josh Nicholas has.

When I first joined Twitter in 2007, there were less than 700,000 accounts on the platform. I have no idea how many of those were active — I could only find numbers that went back to 2010 — but given how early it was and the total user count, I would guess that the monthly active user number wasn’t too far off from the 500,000 that we had on Mastodon in October.

Compared to Twitter, Mastodon has a much higher barrier to entry. The competition is far more established than it was when Twitter launched and they don’t have the benefit of millions of dollars of venture capital to spur growth.

But here’s the thing, although I would love to see Mastodon and other ActivityPub-based services grow, I understand that what is already there is great. I had fun on Twitter in 2007 and I’m having a ton of fun on Mastodon now.

Mastodon doesn’t need to maintain the explosive growth it’s had in the wake of Elon acquiring Twitter. And for the long-term health of the network, it would be better for Mastodon to grow slowly, allowing developers to tackle the inevitable scaling issues with a steadier hand.

And it should go without saying, but it needs to be said — Twitter doesn’t have to fail in order for Mastodon to succeed.

Some High-Profile Facebook Users Exempt From Rules ➝

Dan Milmo, writing for The Guardian:

The XCheck or “CrossCheck” system steers reviews of posts by well-known users such as celebrities, politicians and journalists into a separate system, according to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal. Under the programme, some users are “whitelisted” – not subject to enforcement action – while others are allowed to post material that violates Facebook rules, pending content reviews that often do not take place.

People are placed on the XCheck list – where they are given special scrutiny – if they meet criteria such as being “newsworthy”, “influential or popular” or “PR risky”. Names on the XCheck programme included Donald Trump, US senator Elizabeth Warren and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, although the report does not state whether those names were whitelisted at any point. By 2020 there were 5.8 million users on the XCheck list, the Wall Street Journal said.

Facebook has too much influence on society. And that isn’t going to change until people start leaving.

I would encourage everyone to delete their Facebook account and use something else — preferably something decentralized like Mastodon. Even if you don’t have any friends on it yet, be the early adopter. Be the one that convinces your friends to get out of the walled garden and start exploring the open web.

➝ Source: theguardian.com

Goolge Erases Writer and Artist’s Weblog Without Warning ➝

Mazin Sidahmed, writing for The Guardian:

Two weeks ago, writer and artist Dennis Cooper was checking his Gmail when something peculiar happened: the page was refreshed and he was notified that his account had been deactivated – along with the blog that he’d maintained for 14 years.

This is why I advocate for a reduced dependence on services controlled by others. And, at the very least, keep regular backups.

Uninstalling Facebook App Saves up to 15% of iPhone Battery Life ➝

Samuel Gibbs, writing for The Guardian:

I accessed Facebook for the same amount of time, and for the same purposes, using the social network’s excellent mobile site within Safari, as I had done using the app. I also left the Facebook Messenger app installed. […]

To make sure that this wasn’t an isolated incident, I also recruited several other Facebook-using iPhone owners to conduct a similar test. They all found similar results, with increased battery life when using Facebook in Safari having uninstalled the main Facebook iOS app.

If you feel that you need to continue using Facebook, I suggest uninstalling the app and adding a website shortcut to your iPhone’s home screen.

The Guardian: ‘Apple Executives Have Discussed Their Plans for An Autonomous Vehicle with Officials at California’s DMV’ ➝

Mark Harris, writing for The Guardian:

According to documents obtained by the Guardian, Mike Maletic, a senior legal counsel at Apple, had an hour-long meeting on 17 August with the department’s self-driving car experts Bernard Soriano, DMV deputy director, and Stephanie Dougherty, chief of strategic planning, who are co-sponsors of California’s autonomous vehicle regulation project, and Brian Soublet, the department’s deputy director and chief counsel.

Apple Working to Improve Apple Music ➝

Oliver Schusser, VP iTunes International, speaking with the Guardian:

There’s a lot of work going into making the product better. Our focus is on editorial and playlists, and obviously we have teams all around the world working on that, but we’re also adding features and cleaning up certain things.

I wish Apple waited a few extra months before launching the service. Imagine if they took the time to work out all of the bugs that users still experience before debuting it to the public. It may have been met with a warmer welcome than the mixed impression we all had initially. And Android users would have only had to wait weeks instead months to join the service.

The Guardian: ‘Documents Confirm Apple is Building Self-Driving Car’ ➝

I loved John Gruber’s response to this:

It sure looks like Apple is getting ready to test drive a car, but I didn’t see anything in this report that justifies the assumption that it’s a self-driving car. Did I miss something?

My thoughts exactly. I haven’t seen much evidence pointing towards Apple building a self-driving car specifically, including the aforelinked piece by The Guardian.

Netflix CEO Tells Subscribers to Brace for Higher-Priced Plans ➝

The cost of cord cutting is destined to increase over time. I just hope price-conscious users continue to have inexpensive options in the future. I always thought Netflix would be that option, but maybe that isn’t the case.