In October 2022, Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter. Almost a year later and we have witnessed the gutting of the content moderation department, a huge increase in hate speech, and in real terms the end to API-based researcher access to data. Twitter (or ‘X’) isn’t just unfriendly but actually unsafe for many more people.
For these reasons, the Association of Internet Researchers has decided that we will be ramping down our use of Twitter, effective immediately.
Instead, we are shifting our activity to Mastodon, where for a few months we have been running our very own server. This means that we will not be tweeting during the #AoIR2023 conference. Instead, we will be posting on AoIR’s Mastodon instance (https://aoir.social). Membership of this instance is a benefit of AoIR membership. AoIR members have recently been sent an invite link; if you are not a member of AoIR, why not join and also get access to our online community.
We have put together a short ‘Starting out on Mastodon’ video guide (and a longer one too), but it’s important for us to really emphasize that you do not need to change your Twitter persona (or persona from whatever other platform(s) you use) for Mastodon. You will need to write textual descriptions of images you post (ALT text), and it’s customary to write a post in which you introduce yourself, but you can be just as whimsical, self-promotional, political, irreverent, pet-obsessed, puntastic, or whatever, as you were/are on Twitter. Honestly.
That said, for a long time, Twitter has been the back channel, and then pretty close to the front channel, for AoIR conferences and the AoIR community. As a community, many of us are invested in trying to make, find, promote and experience better online communities. Mastodon and the fediverse are an attempt to carve out a better space that is not owned by huge corporations. We invite you for at least the duration of #AoIR2023 to give Mastodon a go. If the AoIR community finds it useful, it’s a space we can maintain, support and protect ourselves, which is important for any community.
In order to encourage you to make the jump to Mastodon sooner rather than later, we have just started a Name That Film That’s Filmed In Philadelphia But Doesn’t Have Philadelphia In The Name Competition (aka #AoIR2023PhillyMovieGame).