This morning I opened up the Twitter app on IOS and found myself surprised - and annoyed - by how many ads I was seeing. I started counting:
1, 2, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad….
I repeated this several times after refreshing the feed. It seems that there’s an initial ad after 2 or 3 tweets, and then the pattern was consistent - every fifth tweet was an ad!
Repeating this in the web browser, the count looked like:
1, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad, 1, 2, 3, 4, ad...
I wondered in a tweet if Twitter’s advertising was always this intrusive and I had just not noticed… or if Twitter in their desperation was just pushing more ads?
Or, as I put at the end, is that I am now used to Mastodon with no ads?
I don’t know whether Twitter is pushing more ads now or if it has always been this way, but I do think my perception this Monday morning is probably because I *have* been using Mastodon far more than Twitter these days. (You can find me there at https://mastodon.social/@danyork )
And there is a beauty there in NOT drowning in ads!
Now, to be clear, someone has to pay for the servers and services needed to run any social network. Twitter has chosen to do so via advertising, as has Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and pretty much every other social media service.
I you choose NOT to rely on advertising, as Mastodon servers (a.k.a. “instances”) are right now, you have to have some other business model. Some I’ve seen include:
- Individual server operators just paying for the server / services themselves (can work on a small scale)
- Donation pages / requests via services like Patreon
- Operation by a nonprofit that is supported by donations of various forms
- Operation by a commercial company
I thought I saw someone setting up a Mastodon server and requiring payment to have an account on the system, i.e. a subscription of sorts. I can’t find that site right now, but I could totally see someone doing that.
The beautiful thing about the decentralization and federation of Mastodon and other “Fediverse” servers is that people can try out MANY different business models and find what works for them.
And right now, there is a strong ethos within the Mastodon community to not have advertising and to rely on these other models. People are encouraging other users to help sponsor whatever server you are using. So far this seems to be working… although we’ll see as more and more people migrate to Mastodon.
I do expect that at some point we may see some Mastodon servers supported by advertising. But it may be more in the form of banner ads or other display ads on the Mastodon web interface, versus the intrusive ads directly in the feed. (Ads in a feed would probably quickly be blocked by admins of other Mastodon servers!)
We’ll see. But in the meantime, for as long as I can I’m going to continue enjoying the ad-free experience over on Mastodon! See you there!