Despite the fact that Twitter faced a storm of criticism for their content regulation, they are still one of the flourishing social media and their stock is skyrocketing. Only a few political enthusiasts have moved to other social networking services in pursuit of free speech, and the Big Tech made every effort to suspend them. Meanwhile, in the fediverse, there has been a huge controversy over the implications if the enthusiasts came. As a matter of fact, most of them, however, were not attracted to the decentralized social networks for good or bad. In terms of free speech, the fediverse seems to be a better option than the newly-launched centralized social media. Why haven’t they chosen the fediverse?
In my opinion, the biggest reason is the decentralized social networks are designed to prevent an enthusiasm in principle. For example, the numbers of likes and reposts (retweets) are often inaccurate or even invisible on some servers. Also, the fediverse does not show the users the trending posts and hashtags in general. These traits are not profitable for commercial purposes, but they help us focus on what is actually written in the post.
On the contrary, Twitter’s design fosters enthusiasm. Users are inclined to read the posts that have been read by many users and spread the posts that have been spread by many users. Though this allows us to acquire useful information much faster than old media, the contents that cause a surge of excitement or anger will naturally draw many people’s attention. The agitators and influencers utilize this feature to manipulate the crowd effectively for their commercial or political purposes. Twitter’s recommendation and retweet features have a lot of pros and cons.
The lack of enthusiasm is also why the fediverse is not so popular among the general public. Many people, not even limited to political enthusiasts, are seeking a place that allows them to feel the excitement and share it with others; and therefore what they truly need is a massive monolithic public space rather than a loose federation of diverse spaces.
In that sense, the decentralized social networks would never become popular among the general public, nor should they ever pander to the public for prosperity. Nevertheless, the fediverse will retain its values, thus growing slowly but steadily.