This site became big thanks to Twitter and Facebook. We were also created at roughly the same time. In 2009, Twitter was just getting off the ground, and the Netherlands still thought Hyves was going to be the be-all and end-all, while Belgium was already on Facebook. Anyway, tl;dr: social media was still fun. Only in the years that followed did it get weirder and weirder.
On existing social media, you as a user are also the product. Fortunately, you used to get quite a lot in return. But that is becoming less and less. As a private person, I noticed that I saw fewer and fewer posts from people with whom I was not in active contact. That was unfortunate. As manager of the professional accounts of Culture Press, I noticed that the price per pageview was getting higher and higher for us.
There was no alternative
We - as a small independent news medium - keep the chimney burning of companies that do not care about the welfare of their users, it is the advertisers who determine what is censored, and what is promoted. It is, especially on Twitter, the excitement- and anger-based algorithms that determine what you as a user get to see.
That was annoying, but there was no alternative. Until Elon Musk took over Twitter and it suddenly became clear how dangerous it is to put something as vital as a social medium in the hands of a single company, or even a single man. When that took journalists to task who dared to be critical, it was definitively clear: this company does not have the right idea about public space.
9 million and counting
Fortunately, Mastodon, a decentralised, open-source social network that I had known since its inception in the previous decade, turned out to be mature enough by now to allow the outflow at Twitter. Since this autumn, it grew from 600,000 to 9,000,000 users. And all on servers that couldn't always handle the influx.
Because that is the beauty, and vulnerability, of Mastodon: the small servers (Instances) that keep the network going with their own rules and ethics.
As a user, you have an account with a small server, where you have very short lines to the administrators, and know exactly what rules apply. Through such a server, you yourself can follow people anywhere on the huge network, and block those you don't like. But the server can also determine which instances can be seen on the line. This can be useful when certain instances share nasty content.
Do you disagree with the policy of your instance, you can let the administrators know, or you can move, keeping all your contacts, to a instance that more meets your needs.
Cultural press is Mastodon
So now Culture Press also offers that service. You can visit our instance mastodon.culturepress.co.uk open an account (for now members only) and from there the 'fediverse' in, the network of all mastodon servers, where more and more media and interesting users can be found. And where you hold all the power.
Culture Press has set up its own server to contribute to the vitality of the network. We don't earn anything from that. That's actually really nice.