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Since Elon Musk bought Twitter in October, many users of the social media platform have discussed taking their ideas elsewhere — and some have already done so.
Some object to Musk spreading lies, escalating hate speech after taking office, laying off half of Twitter’s employees, and reinstating former President Donald Trump’s account. Some are of the opinion that the site will go down entirely at some point due to several of the company’s engineers leaving the company. Some are just saying that the site’s best days are over.
Either way, Twitter has had real feelings about “closing time” over the past couple of weeks, with many longtime users heeding Semisonic’s advice: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
Here’s a look at where some Twitter users are testing the waters.
Barbara Ortotay / AP
Founded in 2014, Mastodon has been getting the lion’s share of attention in recent weeks, and has gained a lot of users in that time. Mastodon says it had more than 2.5 million monthly active users as of Tuesday. Nearly 180,000 people joined Mastodon on a single day last week, according to data scientist Esteban Moreau.
Sooooo, what exactly is a mastodon?
It is a decentralized and open source social media platform. Anyone can run and host their own Mastodon server and create their own community, which can connect to other Mastodon servers. Because it is open source, it is not owned by anyone, and its creators do not own any copyright to it.
This is by design. “No one controls the entire network,” founder Eugene Roshko told NPR last week.
“It’s actually more democratic,” he said.
You can read more about Mastodon’s structure on its Basic Help page. That page declares: “Mastodon is not Twitter.” It says that the site won’t prompt you to follow certain people and that Mastodon doesn’t confirm the popularity or reach of a post: “What’s important here is the interaction in real conversations.”
Each server has its own rules and moderators, and moderators can act as gatekeepers to that server, deciding who can join. Users of different servers (known as instances) can generally interact with each other, although instances may be formed around specific interests, such as those of journalists, Internet users, or food and wine enthusiasts. You can create accounts on more than one server, so there is no need to choose the perfect community straight from the portal.
Mastodon does not offer some features that are familiar to Twitter users, such as quoting tweets. Also, direct messages will likely be read by the server admin, so keep that in mind.
It can be difficult to start over on a new network. Some transplants to Mastodon use tools like Fedifinder and Twitodon to find and follow accounts they know from Twitter on Mastodon.
Screenshot by NPR
Hive Social, founded in 2019, is available as a mobile app for Apple and as a beta version on Android. It offers a chronological feed (instead of algorithm-determined feeds for many leading apps), and says it doesn’t “shadow block” or prioritize certain accounts.
The app promises to bring back “what you used to love about social media in a new way.” Some aspects of Hive – such as profile music – hearken back to a simpler time, namely the era of Myspace. It’s also really fast for photos, like Instagram or Tumblr.
Like Mastodon, Hive Social is growing rapidly amid the Twitter chaos, though, apparently Only two people run it and seek crowdfunding.
Hive Social ranked first on Apple’s App Store chart for free social networking apps on Wednesday. Beehive He said on Monday that it has passed 1 million, and on Tuesday said it had passed 1 million It gained 250,000 users overnight, even though the email verification process is not working. (Meanwhile, Twitter is still at No. 1 on the App Store’s news app chart.)
On Twitter, newcomers cheered Hive for its growth, though many lamented the lack of a desktop app or website and said they had difficulties with registration and a username.
Screenshot by NPR
The Post was founded by the former CEO of Waze, Noam Bardeen, and, in a Twitter-like fashion, aims to bring together news and social media.
The site makes a direct appeal to departed Twitter users, promising content moderation, the ability to write posts of any length and a “civil place to discuss ideas.”
“Remember when social media was fun, gave you great ideas and great people, and actually made you smarter? Remember when it didn’t waste your time and make you angry or sad? When you could disagree with someone without being threatened or insulted,” Bardeen wrote in a post on the site’s homepage. “We want to bring that back with Post.”
It’s hard to tell what Post has to offer, since there’s currently a long waiting list to join it. According to an email update Tuesday night, the site had 180,000 people on its waiting list, 20,000 people were invited to join, and 16,000 had activated their accounts.
Like Hive, the small location’s staff struggles to keep up with demand. Bardeen wrote that “the platform is crashing” but warned that users should be careful when choosing a username, as they won’t be able to change it for a while, and that questions sent to the support team via email will go unanswered for several times. days.
The site is still “half-baked,” Barden admits, lacking basic features such as the ability to search for other people to follow and a personalized feed of people you follow once that functionality is available. “That means 1,000 people are all on the same feed and seeing the same thing. As you can imagine, that’s a lot of cat and dog pictures,” he wrote in Saturday’s update.
Old social networks
Of course, many Twitter users already exist on other social media platforms. The uncertainty of Twitter may motivate them to use other well-known social networks in one form or another.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, and Tumblr are still there, with their own quirks and moderation issues.
They may not have the same claim to “town square” status that Twitter has sometimes come close to, but to varying degrees they feature some of the same qualities that Twitter has: news, entertainment, community, and endless feeds of content.
Can any site nurture the same communities and conversations that thrived in the good ol’ days of Bird App? It’s too early to tell for sure, but many people are hoping the answer is yes.