Stephen Fry Twitter: is actor on Mastodon - why did he quit social media site after Elon Musk purchase

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Several high-profile celebrities, including Whoopi Goldberg, Gigi Hadid and Jameela Jamil, have left Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform

Stephen Fry has become the latest celebrity to quit Twitter, following the likes of fellow actor Jameela Jamil, Bridgerton showrunner Shonda Rhimes and model Gigi Hadid.

It comes after Tesla billionaire Elon Musk completed his $44 billion takeover of the platform in late October. The eccentric entrepreneur has faced a backlash for the mass-sacking of staff and plans to charge for verification.

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With concerns about Mr Musk’s views on the limits (or lack thereof) of free speech and evidence that misinformation and conspiracy theories have started to spread unchecked on the platform - even from the SpaceX owner’s own account - users have started to flock to rival network Mastodon.

Stephen Fry was one of the first major stars to begin using Twitter after it was co-founded by former CEO Jack Dorsey in 2006. He had 12.5 million followers by the time he quit.

So, has the star joined Twitter’s rival platform Mastodon - and why exactly has he quit Twitter? Here’s everything you need to know.

Stars have been abandoning Twitter for social media network Mastodon (image: Getty Images)Stars have been abandoning Twitter for social media network Mastodon (image: Getty Images)
Stars have been abandoning Twitter for social media network Mastodon (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Why did Stephen Fry quit Twitter?

Stephen Fry was one of Twitter’s first celebrity cheerleaders, often encouraging his fellow stars to join the social media platform in its early days.

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In a January 2009 blog on his website, the Blackadder star wrote: “I love how Twitter confirms my all too often assaulted belief that most humans are kind, curious, knowledgeable, tolerant and funny.

“The absurd constraints of the 140 character tweet seem oddly to bring out the best in wit, insight and observation.”

However, the love affair soon turned sour, with Mr Fry already pondering quitting Twitter by late 2009 when he said there was “too much aggression and unkindness” on the platform.

Stephen Fry is one of the UK’s best-loved celebrities (image: Getty Images)Stephen Fry is one of the UK’s best-loved celebrities (image: Getty Images)
Stephen Fry is one of the UK’s best-loved celebrities (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

He went on to quit for brief periods in 2014 and 2015, before leaving the site again for a time in 2016 after a backlash over comments he made about a costume designer at the BAFTAs.

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At the time, he wrote that “the fun is over”, adding: “If you don’t watch yourself, with every move you’ll end up being gashed, broken, bruised or contused.

“Even if you negotiate the sharp rocks you’ll soon feel that too many people have peed in the pool for you to want to swim there any more.”

While he came back soon afterwards, his latest deactivation of his account appears to be terminal. Mr Fry’s last post was a photo of Scrabble letters spelling out the word ‘goodbye’.

A spokesperson told The Times newspaper: “Stephen Fry thought the time was right to move on.”

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While no reason has been given for the actor’s withdrawal from the site, it seems likely to be related to the recent takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk.

Given Mr Fry has previously criticised the social media network’s users for making horrible comments, Mr Musk’s description of himself as a “free speech absolutist” (i.e. someone who doesn’t think there should be a limit to free speech) may have pushed him away.

Elon Musk claims to have ‘freed the bird’ (image: AFP/Getty Images)Elon Musk claims to have ‘freed the bird’ (image: AFP/Getty Images)
Elon Musk claims to have ‘freed the bird’ (image: AFP/Getty Images) | NTB/AFP via Getty Images

Since the buyout, controversial figures - including members of the British far-right - have returned to Twitter. Meanwhile, Elon Musk spread a conspiracy theory about Nancy Pelosi before deleting the offending tweet. Other misinformation has surfaced on the platform in the run up to the US mid-term elections.

Not only has this been cited as a reason for leaving Twitter by some of its most well-known figures, but it has also led major companies - including Ford owner General Motors - to pause advertising on the site.

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Has Stephen Fry joined Mastodon?

Stephen Fry has joined the mass exodus from Twitter to Mastodon.

Mastodon, which was founded in 2016, describes itself as a: “user-friendly microblogging product that would not belong to any central authority”. Rather than being a platform, it is a collection of hobbies and interests-based servers that users can sign up to.

Mastodon is broadly similar to Twitter (image: AFP/Getty Images)Mastodon is broadly similar to Twitter (image: AFP/Getty Images)
Mastodon is broadly similar to Twitter (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Aside from this arrangement, the network is similar to Twitter. Instead of tweets, you can send “toots” which people can like or “boost” (i.e. retweet).

But, unlike Twitter, posts are prioritised depending on when they were shared rather than by an algorithm for Mastodon’s roughly 600,000 active users.

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In his first “toot” on Mastodon, Stephen Fry said: “I wonder if this service [is] named after the great confession of Bertie Wooster’s: ‘As a rule, you see, I’m not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps . . . the clan has a tendency to ignore me.’”

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