BBC has taken a significant step by creating its “experimental” Mastodon server, becoming one of the first major news outlets to join the Twitter alternative. The server, accessible at social.bbc, brings together posts from various BBC accounts, including BBC Radio 4, BBC Taster, and BBC Research & Development.
During a six-month trial period, BBC will explore the server’s potential before deciding whether to continue with it. While users can’t create accounts or posts on the server, they can still interact by leaving replies and following BBC accounts.
However, there are concerns about content moderation since Mastodon relies on individual servers, rather than a centralized moderation team. This hands-off approach can lead to issues, as some instances have faced challenges with inappropriate content, such as child sexual abuse material.
Despite these concerns, BBC is willing to take the risk, as it believes the principles of the Fediverse, emphasizing local control and quality content, align better with its public purposes than commercial networks like Twitter.
“The principles of the Fediverse, with an emphasis on local control, quality content, and social value, are far more aligned with our public purposes than those of avowedly commercial networks like Threads or Twitter,” BBC writes. “We aim to learn how much value it has provided and how much work and cost is involved.”The move to Mastodon was partly influenced by a prior incident where Twitter misapplied “government-funded” labels to accounts, including BBC’s. Other media outlets, like the Financial Times, have also experimented with Mastodon servers, but some have faced difficulties due to legal and cost-related challenges.
BBC’s decision not to allow user account creation on its Mastodon instance might impact its experience compared to others. By closely monitoring the server’s performance and value, the BBC aims to learn more about its potential benefits and associated costs.