twitter who? Flipboard Adds Mastodon Features and Continues to Push Social Media

The seemingly endless chaos on Twitter, from rounds of layoffs to technical failures to public spats between the CEO and users, has many industry watchers wondering: will an alternative come along to take Twitter’s crown as the center of media, sports and politics?

On Tuesday, social reading app Flipboard will make its biggest foray into social media yet, shifting the weight of its more than 145 million monthly users to alternative app Mastodon. The company’s short-term goal is to provide tools to connect Flipboard to another social media service, much like its users can with Twitter today.

In the long term, Flipboard hopes to offer a real alternative to social networks.

Flipboard CEO Mike McCue said in an interview that he realizes that creating each alternative requires a lot of work, which is why he’s starting with the ability to read and post Mastodon on Flipboard. Flipboard is also creating its own mastodon server,, which will include the company’s moderation rules against bad behavior and links from untrustworthy websites.

“It’s going to be fast and reliable, and you can count on our facilitation, which by the way will never be perfect, but at least you can know it’s going to be one of the safest places you can be,” he told McCue, whose history in the technology space includes stints at web browser pioneer Netscape, tech giant Microsoft and a few years on the board of directors of Twitter.

Flipboard has always excelled in its design aesthetic and editorial scrutiny, highlighting communities of people devoted to themes like hiking, photography, and science. Flipboard’s teams program their app to prioritize required reading from publications they’ve verified as responsible and trustworthy over outrage headlines from questionable websites.

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The company has also expanded its capabilities with features like the ability to create posts, as well as share links, photos, videos, and podcasts. With Mastodon capabilities, Flipboard will be able to connect to other social media alternatives like PixelFed, a photo-sharing service similar to Instagram and YouTube competitor PeerTube.

So far, McCue’s approach has worked. Flipboard has more than 145 million monthly users and ranks with Twitter in the top five traffic referrers on the web, McCue said last year, citing data from analytics firm

But McCue admitted that applying Flipboard’s stricter rules to a broader social network would take work.

“We’ll be careful,” he said, noting that Flipboard’s Mastodon server is invite-only. “We can’t protect against every scenario, but for the way people are using this app more mainstream, know that you’re in a place that’s fairly well moderated.”