The Alt-Right Attack Mastodon — Is Decentralization Worse?

Was there ever any doubt that this would happen?

The Alt-Right Attack Mastodon — Is Decentralization Worse?
Photo by Possessed Photography / Unsplash

I wondered in this post if Decentralization (is) Powerful Enough to Stop The Alt-Right Trolls. Can the Fediverse stop them? It turns out that I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

For those who don’t know what a Fediverse is, or what decentralization does, it’s simply the opposite of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook keep your data, monitor you, and ban you for bad behavior. These platforms are called centralized systems because users go to one place to access their content and interact with other users.

Centralization is a double-edged sword, it’s great because the services you get to use are uniform but you can be banned at the whim of the admins. For larger social media platforms getting banned means you violated their Terms of Service (TOS) which usually means you were being an asshole, racist, or some other nasty human being.

A lot of the alt-right and nazis detested being banned on centralized platforms. Elon Musk complained about this too until he unbanned and then had to re-ban Kanye West. They say they have a right to free speech and their views need to be tolerated.

That’s all bullshit. We must NEVER tolerate hate speech, nazis, or terrorists.

Of course, Elon Musk made some heavy-handed decisions when he took over Twitter and it’s caused a user exodus to Mastodon and other decentralized platforms.

What exactly are decentralized platforms and the Fediverse? Imagine your neighbor planting Bamboo along your property line. Bamboo grows like crazy and to keep it under control he cuts it down. He looks on in horror as more of it grows back and starts to spread out uncontrollably. With panic in his eyes, he realizes that he can’t kill the mass of the organization but he can trim and kill a few shoots.

That’s the Fediverse in a nutshell.

Of course, I’m grossly simplifying it. It’s where you own your data and act as a small node in a larger group of other nodes. If you delete your data and leave, it’s gone forever. There are no cached bits of your data anywhere, no algorithms are pimping your work or amplifying others’ work.

It’s a Libertarian’s dream world but also the wild Wild West.

As gay frog worrier Alex Jones would say, there’s a war for your mind. It’s the messages we are consuming daily that shape our perceptions of the world. False statements can be insanely damaging and can last for decades. Ask any doctor about the MMR vaccine causing Autism, it’s a lie that won’t die!

The social media universe was a buzz when Elon Musk took over Twitter. So many people signed up for Mastodon and other Twitter-like clones. The terms Fediverse and Decentralization dominated the daily discourse and people were intrigued.

I wondered how long would it take for alt-right trolls to stir up trouble. It didn’t take long at all. Let’s examine the curious case of Dr. Jeffery Phillips Freeman, the CEO of Mastodon Eugen Rochko, and a programmer guy named Snow.

The summary is this, Dr. Freeman is upset at a coordinated attack on his Mastodon server by a user named Snow and his cohorts. Snow and his trolls would join his server, post Nazi images, and then from their servers lodge complaints to get his server blocked in the Fediverse.

Yes, you can get blacklisted on the Fediverse, so some level of moderation does exist, but that is also considered controversial. Then Dr. Freeman’s server was delisted from the site, a place where you can search for existing Mastodon servers to join.

That’s right, there is no one central place to create an account in the Fediverse, you find a server you like or make one yourself, connect and you’re off to the races. was the place where I found my Mastodon server to connect to, so I could see how powerful the website is for new users.

Dr. Freeman then accuses Eugen Rochko, creator of the open-source Mastodon software and admin for of “caving to the Nazis” by blocking his server. Eugen denies this of course.

There are accusations on Reddit that Dr. Freeman is just trolling and upset at not having any recourse to appeal being dropped from I get it, it’s upsetting to be “ghosted” but that’s the Fediverse. Everyone can do what they want when they want.

Here’s my problem with all this. We’re overlooking the real danger. A coordinated attack of like-minded tech-savvy people wreaked havoc on a Mastodon server.

You can argue that the Fediverse and the decentralized nature of the system “held” and survived this attack, but this is just the beginning. This was a test, a probe of the defenses to see how things work.

What’s to stop an even larger group of nazis, trolls, and nation-state actors from injecting misinformation into the decentralized system. We saw misinformation injected into Facebook and Twitter before, what’s to stop it here?

Detractors will say, we’ll catch it and block it on the Fediverse, the masses of users are smart. We should trust them!


Nationalism, fascism, and the worst of humanity resonate with so many people if it’s presented in the right way. How can the masses of users reliably discern fact from fiction? At least with Twitter, there was a centralized spot to evaluate and block this. In the decentralized world, it will be harder to police this garbage.

Look at what Hitler and the Nazis did. They convinced an entire nation of people that it was the Jews, gays, and other “undesirables” that were the problem. The Nazis argued that for God and their Country, it would be best to get rid of them so they could prosper. They didn’t do it overnight but gradually, by spreading disinformation and controlling the narrative. We’re seeing the same pattern emerging in the United States right now, and it’s frightening.

This is the real danger. Are we in a new arms race? One where speed and technology will determine the truth?

How will we discern the truth from fiction and propaganda before we destroy ourselves?

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