From Tumblr to Counter Social, here are the five platforms you can use if you choose to quit Twitter.
Ever since Elon Musk purchased the social networking site Twitter for US$40 billion, things haven’t been looking too good for the company’s future. Not only did Musk fire over 50% of the employees soon after stepping on board as the new chief executive officer, but he also intends to allow maximum freedom of speech. This can end up making Twitter a cesspool of racism and misogyny, as well as other forms of hate speech.
Knowing this, many celebrities, such as Gigi Hadid, Mick Foley, Bill Morrison and Ryan Reynolds, have all stopped using the platform. Some, like Reynolds, have also begun shifting to different platforms to communicate with their audience. If you are curious about what the “new Twitter” is going to be, here is a list of the top Twitter alternatives you need to check out!
Tumblr is a well-known social media site that has been around since 2007 and was the alternative of choice for Reynolds. Unlike Twitter, Tumblr is all about long-form content with mixed media elements, like photos, videos and graphics interchange format (GIFs). The website allows users to design their own home pages and also communicate with each other privately using direct messages. Tumblr used to be pretty popular in the early 2010s and continued to be actively used till 2018 when a blanket ban on adult content led to it losing around 30% of its user base. The site bounced back in January this year, becoming popular with Gen Z because of features like a chronological feed and the absence of influencers.
One of the biggest Twitter rivals that have recently emerged is the decentralized social networking platform Mastodon. Originally launched in 2016, Mastodon exploded onto the social media scene in early November with Google searches for the term reaching peak popularity on November 8. Mastodon’s creator, Eugen Rochko, says that the platform has gained about a million users since Musk gained control of Twitter on October 27. Instead of being managed by one company, Mastodon is a collection of many different social networking sites (in the spirit of true decentralization), each running on different servers (also called “instances”), somewhat like Facebook groups. While it is largely similar to Twitter, it isn’t quite as large in scale, making the site load a bit slower.
To join Mastodon, you have to sign up for any of the over 7,500 instances that form a part of its network. You can pick a server from a list on Mastodon’s website and choose one that best suits your interests so that it is easier for you to connect with other like-minded individuals.
The audio-based social media platform Clubhouse became popular during the pandemic because of the exclusivity and relief from screen fatigue it promised. But the initial hype that led the platform to success died down by December 2021, when the number of celebrities and business leaders speaking on it gradually reduced. This isn’t to say that no one uses the platform anymore. As of August 2022, the platform has 10 million users and has raised US$10 million in funds.
While having largely different features, it bears some similarities to Twitter spaces — with both of them allowing users to create drop-in audio chat rooms. Other than that, you can also join clubs based on your hobbies and interests. The catch is that some of these are invite-only and in others, you may have to apply to get in.
Launched in 2022, Cohost is a blogging platform that is still in its infancy. Unlike Twitter, the platform allows users to make posts with unlimited characters. Users can also create multiple different pages for themes. What makes this platform so attractive is that it promises the experience of the old-timey internet, both in its look and feel and also in the fact that posts are shown to you in order of creation. Plus, there are no advertisements tracking you on the platform either.
Just like Clubhouse, Cohost is an invite-only platform. If you weren’t invited to sign on by someone and still want to use the platform, you would have to wait one or two days before you would be allowed to make a post.
Counter Social was created by an anonymous hacker called The Jester in 2017. The hacker had been sick and tired of the ways social media was being used to spread disinformation and troll people. So, he created a platform that would be free from these issues. To counter false information, Counter Social has partnered with BotSentinal (a free dashboard that tells users which accounts are known from spreading disinformation) and FactLayer (a Chrome plug-in that provides contextual information on any website that you visit).
Counter Social is also entirely ad-free and instead of the usual vertical feed most social media platforms have, it has multiple columns that show you hashtags and user lists. The platform has a free and paid tier which costs US$4.99. The paid tier gives you additional security and provides you entry into Counter Social’s virtual reality (VR) space— Counter Realms.
A lot of these platforms have seen a steady influx of users since Musk took over Twitter. Mastodon saw a 657% increase in installs after the Twitter sale was finalized, Tumblr saw a 77% increase in installs and Counter Social climbed up to the 11th spot in the top social networking sites by growth. But does this mean they have replaced Twitter? Well, not really.
It is much harder than it looks to recreate the specific bundle of features and the social relevance Twitter has. Some of these platforms are also just starting to grow and so, even if they are capable of replacing Twitter, it would take multiple interactions and updates to get there. Till then, users might just have to deal with the void that Twitter would leave if it continues down the path it is heading.
Header image courtesy of Unsplash.