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Thursday, November 23rd, 2017, 11:50 pm

Mastodon is Actually a Lot Worse Than Twitter When it Comes to Free Speech. Avoid It.

Mastodon is Oppressive

Mastodon oops

It has been three days since the ban (“suspension” they said) and it turns out I was wrong to believe that this was temporary. It’s actually a lot worse than this. They added insult to injury.

As it turned out, the Mastodon network had effectively shadowbanned me for months. This isn’t the fault of one person or one instance because — as it turns out — the network/federation maintains some sort of blacklists for arbitrarily silencing particular instances/people. So even if I self-hosted my toots, I would be visible/active but blacklisted. What’s the point of such a federation then? It’s pure marketing from Mastodon! It’s a lie. And other people (elsewhere) have pointed this out too. It’s worse than Twitter in that regard. The only difference is that the code is “open” and one can run it oneself (outside the entire network).

It “sounds like mastodon is run by crybullies,” one person told me (MinceR). “Though it’s getting worse it has not bottomed out yet,” another person told me. “Be that as it may, reflecting on Mastodon I have always worried about how it is implemented in practice. While it’s great that it is federated to some extent, the nodes are basically fiefdoms controlled by a local sysop who turfs people out if they don’t both agree 100%. Of course people can and do then start their own nodes, becoming sysops themselves, but then the other sysops go out of their way to block the new nodes that they are not in 100% agreement with. Thus balkanization of ideas and populations continues.”

As I then pointed out, moving from node to node also means that the address of the user changes, which leads to other issues. It’s like starting from scratch all over again.

They had me shadowbanned for several months (people told me, but I naively thought it was a bug), so it’s clear they just didn’t want me there, as if I was some kind of radical or something. Twitter never treated me this badly; neither did Identi.ca or Diaspora*. So I wanted to concisely write about it and warn other people to stay away from Mastodon.

The sysop in question does not reinstate my account. He does not even respond to my E-mails. He’s rather arrogant about it and talks to me as though I, a person who brought many new users to his instance, am just a nuisance. What a nerve. What an attitude.

I decided that my posts about it (or tone) would be less gently-worded when the irreversibility of the ban is confirmed. Being gentle with words would not be useful/effective at warning other people, including existing users in that network.

A friend of mine called it “nasty stuff,” noting that “authoritarianism is ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ even to people who don’t dare admit it…”

I don’t want to name any names, but the sysop in question has depression problems, which he admits in his own blog. He is an Apple fan and his latest post says: “I’ve got an appointment tomorrow with my psychiatrist to follow-up about progress on the new med, hopefully I’ll be up to a therapeutic dose within another week or so.”

So a bunch of oddballs run the instances and when they get angry at something (like the volume I post or maybe even my criticism of Apple) they just toss me out without prior warning.

I cannot even get back in just to export my contacts (I was banned without notice!). What good is a federation where the sysops can throw you out and deny access to something as basic as your contacts?

Avoid Mastodon. The underlying software may not be garbage, but the people who manage the Mastodon network are garbage. And they’ll shadowban or even ban people whose views are quite reasonable. Game over.

8 Responses to “Mastodon is Actually a Lot Worse Than Twitter When it Comes to Free Speech. Avoid It.”

  1. One stripy boi Says:

    An important lesson in picking your instance. This kinda shit doesn’t fly on mine. Besides, your toots always showed up on my timeline so maybe you’re making the problem out to be bigger than it is.

    TBH, you kinda strike me as someone who generally rubs people up the wrong way, hell you even blamed someone’s depression on this. I can’t help but feel, judging on how you’ve laid your your case, that there’s another side to this story. Hell, you come across just as much of an “oddball” as the oddballs you’re complaining about.

    Masto and Twitter have their problems, but with the help of a little grey matter you can navigate them. Maybe try GS instead, but if you find yourself getting banned a lot, if might not be them that’s the problem, like that person who always seems to cause drama wherever they go.

    At the end of the day, social media is meant to be a bit of fun. Stop bitching about how much time you’ve put into it and do something with your life.

  2. Bob Jonkman Says:

    Hi Roy: I think you’ve got the wherewithall to set up your own instance. Yes, you may still be blocked by some instances, but those of us on !Fediverse instances that don’t block anyone will still be able to subscribe to your messages.

    To be honest, I thought you’d given up on the Fediverse, since I’m one of the people who wasn’t getting your messages…

    I’d offer you an account on my server, but then you’d be branded with “jonkman.ca”, and that’s not likely to impress your followers…

    –Bob Jonkman
    @bobjonkman@gs.jonkman.ca

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I’m on your side regarding all this, but it’s pretty distasteful to go after someone by highlighting their depression problems. You’re a better person than that, take the high road.

  4. Roy Schestowitz Says:

    One stripy & Anonymous,

    I didn’t name anyone. I gave no link (or even name the instance).

    But I accept your point that it might seem like a personal attack.

    Bear in mind this person prevents me from getting my list of ~1.5k contacts. And I was very polite to him. He wasn’t polite to me.

  5. Roy Schestowitz Says:

    Bob Jonkman,

    Thanks for the invite. I’m still checking my options. It seems like I’ll never have a list of contacts. The sysop is stonewalling.

    For those who try to say I’m being rude, here is the complete chain of correspondence:


    Hi,

    For the past 5 hours I have been unable to access my account, ,
    schestowitz@[redacted] , as it gives an error message as soon
    as I log in. I already tried from several machines, even emptied/deleted
    cookies, logged in again. Same outcome.

    “You don’t have permission to view this page.”

    That’s just what it always says


    Long silence, no reply


    Your account was reported on multiple occasions for violating the
    instance Code of Conduct and was subsequently suspended. I contacted you
    about this matter on the instance and you did not respond.


    I check my notifications once a day. Have not seen it yet.

    What did it say?

    What was violated? Very surprised.


    Email notifications stopped over 24 hours ago and I cannot see anything
    about this. Please reply ASAP with information as I have things I wish
    to post and cannot imagine what I said which violated the ToS (I have
    just read it again).


    Your account was reported multiple times several months ago for spam and
    was subsequently silenced (so as to not flood local timelines). More
    recently, your account was reported for Islamophobia, which is
    unacceptable as pre our code of conduct.

    You may find this site useful in choosing a new
    instance: https://instances.social

    My decision is final and not up for negotiation. Do no contact me again.


    [Comment: I never posted any "spam", maybe I just post a large number of toots, as I've done for 10 years or so. it never caused any issues. I never posted any "Islamophobia" either, maybe someone just interprets a link as offensive to Islam. Convenient excuse/pretext to gag?]


    Can you please give me another chance? I would limit posting to a dozen
    toots a day and purely technical (FOSS). I would appreciate your
    consideration of this as I have many followers there (FOSS). I actually
    brought many FOSS people to your instance.

    Thanks in advance for your consideration,


    [Silence, stonewalling]


    Hi, happy Thanksgiving,

    Can you please give me another chance? I would limit posting to a dozen
    toots a day and purely technical (FOSS). I would appreciate your
    consideration of this as I have many followers there (FOSS). I actually
    brought many FOSS people to your instance.

    Thanks in advance for your consideration,


    [Silence, stonewalling]

  6. MSH Says:

    Seems kind of strong to issue a blanket condemnation of Mastodon for the sins of one instance, though I do understand your frustration.

    Until 4 days ago you showed up fine on my instance (however mine federates widely). There is a McCarthy-like “instance blacklist” that is passed around and some admins are afraid to end up there which is unfortunate, however those instances that subscribe to “the list” are in the minority. To be honest you have been silenced by many individual users but not for being offensive…simply because they are non technical and find the high volume of your posts to crowd out the federated timeline of posts they personally find more interesting. Nothing wrong with that really and I would have suggested (and assisted) complainers in doing so rather than taking instance level action as what happened to you.

    I recommend reconsidering.

    You may have to start from ground zero but you have the wherewithal to establish your own instance, including technical knowledge and your own domain. If you have a strong following they would certainly figure out to follow @roy@socoal.schestowitz.com before long, and perhaps even open accounts on your instance as well.

    Plus your contacts and toots and settings are forever in your control. That includes the possibility of migrating to a future alternative ActivityPub system if Mastodon doesn’t suit you.

    I don’t always agree with your opinions etc. and can’t always keep up with your volume but you aren’t advocating harm or being disrespectful as such. Diversity of all kinds is important and be aware the federation and ActivityPub standard aren’t just about Mastodon. The vision is much wider and also includes alternative implementations that are different yet interoperable. Keep tabs on ActivityPub in the coming weeks and months you might be surprised at what develops!

  7. Roy Schestowitz Says:

    Thanks, MSH.

    For the time being I consider all sorts of options, including GNU Social and my own instance perhaps.

  8. mama21mama Says:

    Spanish: Mastodon rompe compatibilidad con la federacion. Si sigues a un usuarios desde GNUsocial ya tienes problemas para seguirlo. Luego siguiendolo al usuario mastodon estando en GNUsocial cuando paras de seguirlo y vuelves a seguirlo es inalcansable la cuenta de Mastodon. Digo cosas tecnicas de daños a la federacion. Eso es realmente malo.

    Inglish: Mastodon breaks compatibility with the federation. If you follow a user from GNUsocial already have problems to follow him. Then according to the user mastodon being in GNUsocial when you stop to follow him and you follow him is inalcansable the account of Mastodon. I say things technical damage to the federation. That is really bad.

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