June 5, 2023

Twitter competitors emerge as alternatives as Elon Musk takes over

Twitter has been in a bit of turmoil since billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the helm, cutting the company’s workforce in half, revamping the platform’s authentication system, sparring with users over jokes and admitting that “stupid things” might happen as he reshapes one of the world’s high-profile information ecosystems .

On Thursday, amid the exodus of senior executives responsible for privacy, cybersecurity and regulatory compliance, he warned the company’s remaining employees that Twitter might not survive if it couldn’t find a way to bring in at least half of its subscription revenue.

While it’s not clear whether the drama will drive many users away — in fact, a front-row seat to the chaos may prove entertaining for some — lesser-known sites Mastodon and even Tumblr are emerging as new (or revamped) options. Here’s a look at some of them.

(If you leave Twitter and want to keep your tweet history, you can download it by going to your profile settings and clicking “your account” and “download your archive”.)

MASTODON

Sharing its name with an extinct elephant-like mammal, Mastodon has emerged as a pioneer among those interested in life beyond the blue bird. It shares some similarities with Twitter, but there are some big differences — and not just that its tweets are officially called “toots.”

Mastodon is a decentralized social network. This means that it is not owned by any company or billionaire. Rather, it consists of a network of servers, each operating independently but able to connect so that people on different servers can communicate. No ads because Mastodon is funded by donations, grants and other means.

Mastodon’s feed is chronological, unlike Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter, which all use algorithms to get people to spend as much time on the site as possible.

It can be a little intimidating trying to log into Mastodon. Since each server is run separately, you must first select one you want to join, then create an account and accept the server’s rules. There are general ones and interest and location based ones, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Once you’re in, your feed resembles Twitter. You can write (up to 500 characters), send photos or videos and follow accounts and see the general public feed.

“We present a vision of social media that no billionaire can buy and own, and we strive to create a more sustainable global platform without profit incentives,” Mastodon’s website says.

The site currently has more than a million users, nearly half of whom signed up after Musk took control of Twitter on Oct. 27, according to founder Eugen Rochko.

Another option, Counter Social, also maintains an ad-free, chronological social platform funded by users. Counter Social says it blocks access to Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Syria to prevent foreign influence. It offers one-click translation for more than 80 languages. It has over 63 million monthly users, according to its website.

CLUBHOUSE

Remember the Clubhouse when we were all locked up and couldn’t talk in person? It’s a lively audio-only app, somewhat overshadowed by the cloned Twitter Spaces, that also allows people to chat with each other (think conference call, podcast, or “voice chat”) about topics of interest.

Once you join, Clubhouse lets you start or listen to conversations on a wide range of topics, from technology to professional sports, parenting, black literature, and more. No messages, photos or videos – just people’s profile pictures and their voices. Conversations can be intimate, like phone calls, or they can involve thousands of people listening to the speech in bold, like a conference or stage interview.

SUBSTACK and MEDIUM

For longer reading, newsletters, and general information absorption, these sites are perhaps the closest thing to the blogging era of the early 2000s. You can read both without signing up or paying, but some authors, content creators, and podcasts create premium content for paying subscribers.

TUMBLR

Tumblr, which was all but dead, seems to be enjoying somewhat of a resurgence. The words/pictures/art/video site is known for its devoted fanbase and has been home to angry posts from celebrities like Taylor Swift. It angered many users in 2018 when it banned porn and “adult content” that made up much of its highly visual and meme-friendly online presence, leading to a significant drop in its user base.

Getting started is simple, and for those who miss the early years of social media, the site has a distinctly retro, comforting feel to it.

T2 or TBD?

Gabor Cselle, a Google veteran who worked at Twitter from 2014 to 2016, is determined to create a better Twitter. For now, he calls it T2 and says the domain name he bought for it — t2.social — cost $7.16. T2, which may or may not be its final name, is currently accepting sign-ups for its waiting list, but the site is clearly not working yet.

“I think Twitter was always struggling to figure out what to do and how to decide what to do. And that was always kind of in the back of my mind,” Cselle told The Associated Press. “On Monday I just decided to go for it. I didn’t see anyone else doing it.”

Twitter-style text and TikTok-style videos are one idea. Cselle says that for this to work, the text really needs to be “amplified” so it doesn’t get drowned out by the videos.

“My bet is that it’s easier and more efficient to build a better Twitter or public square now than it is to fix Twitter’s old problems,” Cselle added.

Of course, Cselle is not the only one who seizes the opportunity. Project Mushroom, for example, envisions “a safe place on the Internet—a community-driven, open-source home for creators seeking justice on an overheating planet,” and says it has received 25,000 early signups for its yet-to-launch platform.

“My sense is that things will break down into even more ideological platforms and some will die, and then in the next couple of years we’ll see another consolidation,” said Syracuse University professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley. social media.

NEWS PAGES

One of Twitter’s most valuable features has been the way people can find information in seconds. Was it just an earthquake? Twitter will tell you. Or at least he did.

While there is no perfect replacement for Twitter, keeping up with local, national and international news is easier than ever. Apple and Google both offer news services that aggregate articles from a wide variety of publications (Apple offers a premium subscription service that gives you access to more articles, while Google shows free stories first.) There’s also Flipboard, which sort of personalizes your interests curated journal.

Of course, subscribing to individual publications (or downloading a free news app like AP’s AP News) is also an option.

Yes, you may have to pay for some of them, and no, you won’t get a blue checkmark with your order.

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