Who is Eugen Rochko, the young creator of the Mastodon social network?

An early programmer

Since the acquisition of Twitter in late October by billionaire Elon Musk, many users have abandoned the social network to find refuge in Mastodon, the microblogging software in open-source created in 2016 by German Eugen Rochko. The 29-year-old programmer welcomes a judged influx “Without precedents”. From 400,000 in mid-October, the network has grown to more than 1.3 million active “mastonauts” in mid-November.

Once a follower of Twitter, Eugen Rochko immediately deplored his pyramid management. Just graduated in computer science at the University of Jena, in Thuringia, in the former East Germany, he launched, at the age of 24, his own alternative and non-profit social network, where we publish messages called “squeaks”. With its 4,600 independent servers, Mastodon relies on a decentralized system. Thereby, “There’s no longer just one person making a top-down decision. He is more democraticassures its creator.

An impatient child

Born in Moscow to a middle-class Jewish family, Rochko emigrated to Germany with his parents at the age of 11, with the hope “of a better future, far from Putin’s Russia” on background. As a child, his creative spirit was expressed for a time in drawing. “I gave up because I was too impatient. I wasn’t able to draw a straight line, I just made irregular lines” he remembers. In Thuringia he discovers high-speed Internet and lines of code and banishes his pencils and his frustration. “With programming, the payoff was immediate: Changes appeared instantly on my screen. »

A digital exception

During his high school years, he created several websites, including the virtual art marketplace Artists & Customers, which sold for $2,000. Alongside his studies, he puts his IT skills at the service of companies. Evolving away from the Ivy League (a group of eight prestigious private American universities) and Silicon Valley, she has quickly become an exception among the digital giants.

Read also: How does Mastodon work, presented as a “free” alternative to Twitter?

Defender of the open source philosophy, based on collaboration and accessibility, makes it the cornerstone of Mastodon: “The belief that people should be able to see, study, modify and redistribute the software code they use is a political position. The goal is to empower people. »

The antithesis of Elon Musk

“Hate speech limits the freedom of expression of others”, it affects those who oppose the philosophy of Elon Musk, a supporter of absolute freedom of expression. In 2014, Eugen Rochko was marked by the “GamerGate” controversy, a large international online sexist harassment campaign targeting female game developers. He wanted to make a Mastodon a “place preserved from this type of action”.

Read also: Twitter faces a new wave of departures after Elon Musk’s ultimatum to its employees

While Elon Musk thinks about charging for Twitter certification, Eugen Rochko defends a model without advertising or algorithms, financed entirely through a participatory platform.

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