From a message by Joshua Strobl I noticed that Mastodon.cloud had changed owners. On their frontpage I read that the same is true for the bigger mstdn.jp instance (and their about page confirms that). These are the 3rd (mstdn.jp has about 200k users) and 5th (mastodon.cloud has about 59k users, source) biggest Mastodon instance respectively, housing 11.5% of the total number of Mastodon users. Both are now run by Sujitech LLC (USA), which consists of two people. One of the two is Suji Yan, who works on privacy related services.
I’m interested in how this is perceived by the account holders on those two instances. Mastodon instances generally seem to regard themselves as communities, so did the change of hands have community involvement, are the new instance maintainers members of that community? Is the change of hands a shock to those communities (as far as 200k people and 59k people can be a community)? What’s the shock about? Will some conclude a big instance is just someone else’s silo? Will the change of hands, if it was unexpected or sudden (what was the reason for the change?), lead to people seeking out smaller instances? Or start their own?
We have received several inquiries showing interest in a transfer following the announcement of the end of the mstdn.jp and mastodon.cloud services.
As a result of subsequently evaluating the situation and making preparations, we have decided that the corresponding services will be transferred to Sujitech, LLC. on June 30.
Update (same day): The mastodon.cloud admin account posted on May 25 that it would close the two instances down in expectation of not being able to deal with the administrative overhead of stricter regulations concerning defamation in Japan:
Recently, the handling of online defamation has become a hot topic on many mass media as well as social media channels.
News Article for Reference: https://www.jiji.com/sp/article?k=2020052500387
In response to these reports, it is expected that lawsuits and disclosure requests will become more publicly known;
and government agencies will order stricter enforcement in addition to tightening regulations.
However, under the current state of Japan, we will not be able to handle the increase of such administrative burdens and will have trouble dealing with it appropriately.Thus, we have decided to stop providing our service on mstdn.jp and mastodon.cloud starting June 30, 2020.
We are very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding on the matter.
If both instances were hosted within Japanese jurisdiction, moving them to a US based company makes sense, especially as the company has personal ties to Japan through its owner.
If it was indeed to avoid administrative hassle, then like with the discussion if the new EU copyright law means Mastodon instances should adopt upload filters to avoid being liable, it’s a further nudge to small group and personal instances.