a week ago Elon Musk completed his $44 billion Twitter deal, and Cassie LaBelle, part of the transgender community on Twitter, started a Discord server. “I don’t know if Musk is going to buy and destroy Twitter,” she said wrote, but she hopes her server will be an interesting experiment. Beyond that, the server will sooner or later become a safe space for the transgender community she has cultivated for over a decade.
“Nothing can replace it,” Rabel said. “Nobody has what Twitter has.” For her, Twitter is a place for transgender people to meet, date and post anonymously if they’re afraid of harassment or still exploring their identities and don’t want to share photos or videos. With Musk taking over, Rabel isn’t leaving — she needs a platform to work on — but she’s rebuilding a smaller version of the community on a forum that feels safer.
“Discord isn’t really going to be Twitter,” LaBelle said. “It’s just me grabbing everyone in my circle now and running in the other direction as fast as I can because we’re being chased by the fascists.”
LaBelle is one of many worried that Twitter could be in chaos under Musk. Harassment already exists on the platform, but Musk said one of the reasons he bought Twitter was to remove moderation rules. For someone like Rabel from a marginalized group, it feels like an invitation to trolls to spread more hate and harassment.
Musk has said he will reinstate former U.S. President Donald Trump and allow any content that isn’t illegal, despite his tweeted today No major decisions will be made until he convenes a committee of people with “widely divergent views” on moderation. Some Twitter users are planning to flee in protest because they don’t want to provide free content to the platform owned by the world’s richest man.
Rather than rushing out and deleting their accounts, many of those with reservations about Musk’s takeover have a plan similar to LaBelle’s. They provide information to followers so they can find them on Discord or Mastodon, a decentralized microblogging platform most similar to Twitter.
Mastodon has benefited from speculation about a new Twitter owner. About 18,000 people signed up for Mastodon accounts between October 20 and 27, the platform’s CEO Eugen Rochko said. As of October 28, it had 381,113 active users. Mastodon’s Twitter handle is also used by many people on Twitter to post new Mastodon accounts, Rochko said.
Many tweeted Friday morning under #TwitterMigration saying they weren’t ready to ditch Twitter entirely, but had set up Mastodon accounts in anticipation of sweeping changes. Some people in the academic or technical community on Twitter put their new Mastodon profile on their bio or Twitter name. “#Mastodon seems to be trending on Twitter as more people announce their new profiles,” the company said. wrote Thursday.