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Groups blocking journalists on Mastodon reaches 200

The logo of Mastodon
The logo of social media platform Mastodon. (Logo via Eugen Rochko via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic designed by The Desk)

More than 200 Mastodon servers have blocked a group popular with hundreds of journalists, according to online logs reviewed by The Desk this week.

The number is about five times higher compared to the amount of Mastodon servers — or “instances” — that were blocking the group, journa.host, when the issue was first reported by the Columbia Journalism Review last November.

Hundreds of journalists migrated to the journa.host instance on Mastodon last fall, shortly after technology mogul Elon Musk completed his $44 billion takeover of Twitter.

Mastodon and Twitter offer similar features, including the ability to create short informational posts, upload photos and distribute video clips, along with social features like following peers, blocking users and sharing content posted by others. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon operates on thousands of servers around the world — and while the majority of servers allow interactions between users on other instances, some have decided to block servers that they feel might be abusive, annoying or generate harm to their own community.

Such is the case with journa.host, which has found itself to be an unwelcomed presence by over 200 fellow servers. According to data reviewed by The Desk on Monday, 196 Mastodon instances have put digital barricades in place that makes it impossible for journalists on journa.host to see, interact with or follow users in their communities.

Dozens of other Mastodon servers have implemented limitations between their community and journa.host members. Nine instances allow journa.host members to follow their users and vice versa, but have implemented a block that prevents posts by journa.host members from appearing in their users’ timelines. Another six servers allow their users to “report” problematic content from journa.host participants, which flags a moderator for its possible removal from their internal timeline; another three places journa.host contributions in a “quarantine” until a member affirms they want to engage with it.

While some Mastodon instances blocking journa.host appear to contain problematic members of their own, the majority of instances blocking the group are ordinary communities where the server operators or moderators have expressed a concern that journalists will engage in self-promotion or so-called “surveillance capitalism.”

Last December, a Mastodon instance popular with LGBT users and supporters banned journa.host one month earlier, The Desk reported. No reason was given for that decision. Data logs reviewed by The Desk this week showed the number of LGBT groups blocking the journa.host server has increased to two.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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