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How to Find the Journalists Banned From Twitter on Mastodon

Social network Mastodon has exploded with new accounts since Twitter's controversial suspensions.

A phone with the Mastodon home page on its screen that is held above a computer keyboard
Most of the journalists suspended by Twitter have accounts on Mastodon.
SOPA Images/Getty Images

Twitter's sudden decision to suspend the accounts of several journalists who cover company owner Elon Musk continues to reverberate across the internet. It's also created a lot of new users at Mastodon, an open-source social network that was averaging about 20,000 new accounts daily but has garnered more than 70,000 new users in the past 24 hours, per a popular Mastodon tracking bot.

Twitter raised eyebrows on Dec. 14 when it banned the account of a student who tracked flights of Musk's private jet using publicly available information. It set off alarm bells the next day by suspending reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and Mashable, among other outlets, with no warning or explanation.

Many of those suspended reporters now have accounts on Mastodon. You don't even need an account to find and read posts from these reporters or anyone on Mastodon -- I'll show you how. And if you do want to start your own Mastodon account, it's not much harder than creating a new email address.

Read on for more about Mastodon and how to find the accounts of the more famous people who've switched over from Twitter. You can also get the step-by-step process for creating a Mastodon account and participating on the growing social network. For more about social media, here's how to download your Twitter archive.

Which reporters and accounts were suspended by Twitter?

On Dec. 14, Twitter suspended @elonjet, a bot account that tracked the private flights of Elon Musk. It's run by University of Central Florida student Jack Sweeney, whose personal account and other bot accounts were also suspended. Musk had criticized Sweeney's account but also pledged not to ban it in a now infamous tweet from Nov. 6.

To justify its suspension of Sweeney's accounts, Twitter updated its private information and media policy on Wednesday to prohibit "live location information, including information shared on Twitter directly or links to 3rd-party URL(s) of travel routes."

The following day, the official Twitter account for Mastodon was suspended, apparently for sharing a link to the Elonjet account on

Later in the day on Dec. 15, around 4:30 p.m. PT, several technology reporters found their Twitter accounts had been suspended. Some, but not all, of the accounts had posted links to the Elonjet account on Mastodon. 

In response to news of the suspensions, Musk tweeted, "Same doxxing rules apply to 'journalists' as to everyone else." Suspensions of other reporters who tweeted about Musk continued through the evening.

Most of the major Twitter accounts that were suspended on Thursday have created accounts on the decentralized social media network Mastodon, with differing levels of participation. Here are the links to their official accounts on Mastodon:

Other journalists suspended by Twitter on Wednesday include New York Times reporter Ryan Mac, independent journalist Aaron Rupar and former ESPN and MSNBC host Keith Olberman, but none of the three seems to have an active Mastodon account yet.

Other famous Twitter accounts that are now on Mastodon include:

How can I follow someone on Mastodon without joining?

Almost all Mastodon servers allow public posts on the network to be viewed by anyone, regardless of whether you have a Mastodon account. You can simply point your web browser to any user's profile and scroll through their posts.

If you want a centralized way to track multiple Mastodon users, the easiest way is to join a Mastodon server and follow people as you would on Twitter or any other social network (see more below). However, if you really don't want to join Mastodon, you can also follow accounts using an RSS reader.

Every account on Mastodon automatically publishes an RSS feed that can be followed, For example, you can see an RSS feed of my original Mastodon posts at

How do I join Mastodon?

Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is not a single website: It's a decentralized network made up of thousands of websites talking to each other. To start posting on Mastodon (which until quite recently was called "tooting") and following other people, you'll need to create an account on a specific Mastodon server or "instance."

To start following people and posting messages on the Mastodon social service, you begin by joining one specific instance. Each server (if open for registration) has its own sign-up process, but the majority only require a username, email address and password.

Once you've joined a Mastodon instance, however, you're not limited to just following people and posts on that server. You can follow, favorite, reblog or reply to any Mastodon account that's connected to the larger Fediverse.

How do I choose a Mastodon server?

The Mastodon organization provides a partial list of servers -- about 100 -- on its site. You can filter the servers by geographic region, language, topic registration process and whether or not they're hosted by individuals or organizations. All servers on the official Mastodon site have agreed to follow the best practices of the Mastodon Server Covenant.

If you're just testing Mastodon out, you might consider one of the official server instances run by the Mastodon organization. While the first and biggest -- -- has temporarily paused registration, a newer server is still open and picking up the slack. 

If you want a bigger list of Mastodon servers to review, your best bet right now is, which offers a sortable list of about 4,000 Mastodon servers, as well as a wizard-style app that helps you choose a server that fits your requirements.

The site provides useful data about each Mastodon instance, including number of users, number of "statuses" (posts), server uptime percentage and which versions of the Mastodon software it is running. It also lets you filter servers by language; minimum/maximum number of users; and prohibited/allowed content such as nudity, pornography, advertisements or entertainment spoilers. You can also click any instance name --, for example, a server devoted to open-source software -- to read a brief description of the community.

Once you're actually on a Mastodon site, you can learn about the instance from its "about" page, browse community users on its "explore" page or view recent posts on its "public" page. 

You should read the server rules for each Mastodon instance to make sure it's a good fit, but don't worry too much about which server you join. You can follow users on other servers and join and leave as many Mastodon servers as you'd like. If you do move around, Mastodon allows you to migrate all of your followers and lists with you.

How do I join a Mastodon server?

A screenshot of the Mastodon sign-up form

Joining a Mastodon server only requires a few personal details.

Screenshot by Peter Butler/CNET

Each Mastodon instance will have its own sign-up process, but the vast majority are the same. You provide a username, email address and password, check the box agreeing to the terms of service and server rules, and click "Sign Up." 

You'll then see a notification asking you to check your email for a verification message. Click the "Verify email address" in that email message, and you're done. You can now start posting on your Mastodon server and follow anyone in the Fediverse.

Because of the increased traffic to Mastodon servers since Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter, some of those registration emails are taking a long time to show up or never arriving at all. 

When I registered for the server last week, I got a confirmation email in about 15 minutes. I'm still waiting for a verification email from for a registration attempt three days ago. Be patient, and try a new server if you can't complete the registration for another.

After you verify your email address, your Mastodon account should be up and running. You can start posting or following people, though it will take a while to build up your feed. Web tools like Debirdify and FediFinder can jump-start the process by helping you find your Twitter contacts on Mastodon.

While most Mastodon servers offer the quick registration process described above, other, more private instances will ask that you apply for an invitation to the instance, which requires a manual review and longer registration time.

If you do decide to register on a Mastodon server and make it through the process, come visit me to say hi.

For more, learn how social media could be hurting your mental health.