It’s all part of the brilliant plan to become profitable

The first step in making money with Twitter is to drive away all those scientists. They’re so critical!

Still, with uncertainty about how Twitter will change under Musk, many of the thousands of medical and scientific experts on the platform have started to look for alternatives or are considering giving up on social media altogether. For a while the hashtags #GoodbyeTwitter and #TwitterMigration were trending, and many researchers have been posting their new Mastodon handles, encouraging others to follow them to the site, which has gained more than 100,000 new users within days of Musk completing his purchase.

For the moment, most researchers are waiting to see what happens with Twitter. “I’m hedging my bets with a Mastodon account but not planning to leave in the short term,” says biologist Carl Bergstrom (@CT_Bergstrom, 163,000 followers) of the University of Washington, Seattle. Many other researchers are doing the same. That means even if little changes for now, the groundwork is being laid for what could quickly become a digital mass migration of scientists.

Once those old crotchety stick-in-the-muds are gone, Twitter will prosper. Just like when chasing away those computer scientists made it possible to sell dancing serfs as robots, and making the neuroscientists roll their eyes at Neuralink opened the door to brain surgery on his fans, and horrifying space science realists makes it possible to sell seats on a rocket to millionaires, Musk has a grand plan. By antagonizing all the rational people, he’s left with a market packed with fools — it’s like those Nigerian prince scams, where the skeptics get turned off by the subject line, but if the mark reads through a whole paragraph, you know you’ve got a potential sucker.

Like Bergstrom, I’m staying on Twitter for now — for the lulz, if nothing else — but I also have a backup plan with an account on mastodon that I set up 5 years ago (I’m on, if you want to track me down). There, I’ve noticed a recent flood of familiar science-related names showing up, which is nice. It’s always been a pleasant crowd over there, but I was sad that I had to go to Twitter to hang out with most of my science-related online pals, and now Twitter is becoming less and less essential.

By the way, if you find Mastodon confusing, DrSkySkull has written a short guide.


  1. markp8703 says

    I thought it was you who wrote about mastodon back in the day.

    I set up an account, but haven’t used it for years. I’ve just checked and I can still log in, so it looks like I’ll be leading a double life for a while. I hope it reaches some sort of critical mass.

  2. Big Boppa says

    I set up a Mastodon account last Friday. One of the first things I did was to follow PZ. The instance I’m on though is which was started by regulars of the blog It’s been a little slow getting it going but come on by if you’re looking for a place for mommy blogging, unapologetic progressive politics, recipes and dick jokes.

  3. says

    I’ll probably look into Mastodon, esp. with a guide.

    Unfortunately, I expect Musk will be able to call a lot of shots in the new fascist USA, so maybe we’ll see his model of “free speech” applied on a federal level. How exciting!

    What I don’t get is – why is Mastodon being treated as the only alternative rather than something like Diaspora?

  4. logicalcat says

    Definitely don’t leave. There is not enough science communicators and leaving twitter will make it even less so. No one knows the hell mastodon is. I don’t even like twitter but Ive also been very disappointed that academics don’t engage in the public sphere. I don’t have twitter so I don’t know how prevalent they are but on other platforms they are non existent.

  5. F.O. says

    Managed to resurrect my Mastodon account.
    And yeah, I will be following the shitstorm, but I think eventually I’ll want out of twitter, it’s largely a time sink.