According to the latest data, the number of active users of the Mastodon social network has fallen by more than 30% since the moment of the peak and continues a slow decline. There were about 1.8 million active users in the first week of January, compared to more than 2.5 million in early December.

Mastodon, an open-source social network consisting of mostly independently hosted servers, has often been called alternative Twitter. But for many, it doesn’t fulfill the role that Twitter did, and experts say it’s too difficult to replace.

Mastodon had about 500,000 active users before Elon Musk bought Twitter in late October. By mid-November, this number had increased to almost 2 million active users.

Mastodon’s surge in new users continued throughout November, peaking at over 130,000 new users per day. The climbs often coincided with controversial decisions by Elon Musk.

This included the decision to lay off thousands of Twitter employees, change its verification policy, reinstate the account of Donald Trump and suspend the accounts of journalists who wrote about Musk, which caused several scandals.

Google data shows that in April 2022, around the time when Musk announced that he had become the largest shareholder of Twitter, there was also a surge in searches for Mastodon.

Coffey notes that there have been several successful new social networks. Most were easy-to-use and community-building, like the BeReal photo-sharing app, while others, like the Clubhouse audio social network, were too exclusive to begin with.