Users began to fret about the demise of Twitter once Tesla Inc. TSLA,
CEO Elon Musk announced plans to buy the service earlier this year as he teased a more relaxed approach to content moderation. But many Twitter users have been preparing in recent days to say goodbye with greater urgency after mass layoffs after Musk asked remaining employees to either agree to long hours or take severance pay.
Now, Twitter users who once contemplated leaving the platform due to a CEO’s changing vision are grappling with the possibility that Twitter could physically “collapse” in the absence of key engineers and other employees.
The employee flight has changed the equation. Employees had until Thursday afternoon to decide whether or not to stay with Twitter, and potentially hundreds of those given the ultimatum chose to opt out, according to estimates published in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.
Twitter, which is said to have largely disbanded its press team, did not immediately respond to a request from MarketWatch for comment on the number of employees opting into the severance package.
Read: Twitter Risks Fraying When Engineers Quit Over Musk Upheaval
The problem is that Twitter, which had more than 237 million monetizable daily active users in the June quarter, isn’t easy to replace. Yes, there are other major platforms for people to connect online including Facebook and Instagram both owned by Meta Platforms Inc. META,
and the fast-growing TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance. But Twitter plays a unique role for many web dwellers because it focuses on real-time information, often disseminated via text. Instagram and TikTok are much more focused on photos and videos respectively. Additionally, Twitter is a platform where many world leaders, corporations, celebrities and public figures already have an established presence and are easy to find; The same cannot be said for alternatives like Mastodon and Post. Still.
However, Twitter users have some ideas about where they might be going in a world where Twitter doesn’t exist, or at least one where Twitter no longer resembles the service it once was. Below are some commonly mentioned alternatives.
This oft-mentioned alternative platform describes itself as “radically different social media, back in people’s hands”. It points out that there are “no algorithms or ads to waste your time” and “gives them a unique way to manage your audience without intermediaries.” As the tech-focused Lifewire site explains, Mastodon is decentralized — meaning it allows users to create, host, and operate communities, or “instances,” rather than “offering a massive social media platform.” Each instance has different behavioral policies set by the hosts.” One benefit of Mastodon is that it doesn’t allow the equivalent of quoting tweets like Twitter does. Quote tweets can produce cheeky replies, giving Mastodon a less aggressive feel. And Volkswagen VOW,
— Europe’s largest automaker — is a company that has already signed up for a Mastodon account, Bloomberg reported.
This platform bills itself as a platform that bans trolls, abuse, advertising, fake news and “foreign influence operations” and says it has more than 63 million visitors. One interesting feature of CounterSocial is that it monitors emergency radio traffic and says it can provide updates and chatter “from the ground when a major incident occurs, well before traditional media gets it.” Twitter is often a place where people see the latest news before the media can release full stories, so the scanning feature might have some appeal. Creative Bloq, an art and design site, calls it a “factual alternative to Twitter” that’s already “proving very popular,” while tech site ZDNet simply rates it the best Twitter alternative overall. Website Tech Briefly calls their design “futuristic” and says both Mastodon and CounterSocial offer “features quite comparable to those found on the Twitter platform.”
Amino calls itself the platform that lets you “build your own community” with a custom theme that includes a logo, theme, background image, and more. Some say it’s similar to Mastodon, but ZDNet notes that it also aligns with the fact that it’s a “safe social space for teens” with “strictly enforced community guidelines.” (Nevertheless, the technically-focused MUO site noted that some “inappropriate” content seems to be slipping through the cracks.) Twitter has spent the last few years making it easier for users to find communities interested in similar topics to theirs . This appears to be a core feature of Amino’s platform.
Describing itself as “a really slick site that allows you to present the events that make up your life in deliciously digestible chunks,” Plurk has a playful bias. LifeWire calls it the platform most similar to Twitter, noting that “you’ll find people discussing a wide range of everyday topics, from knitting to Netflix.” Plurk is headquartered in Taiwan and hosts many discussions centered on “Asian pop culture,” according to LifeWire. The service could be particularly appealing to Twitter users interested in connecting with others who enjoy the same music groups or shows. And CNET describes it as a “Twitter clone,” saying it offers “a nifty timeline view of all your friends’ posts. The system is also well designed for adding friends by finding them on your other buddy lists (AIM, Yahoo IM, Gmail, etc.).”
Often described as a conservative social media app, Parler says his social media platform “is what it was intended to be,” noting that it operates “on a basis of respect for privacy and personal data, freedom of speech built on free markets and ethics transparent corporate policies.” Ye, the music artist formerly known as Kanye West, reportedly agreed to acquire Parler last month. And of course, when it comes to politically oriented platforms, there’s also former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social, which emerged after Twitter banned Trump. Both platforms were framed as alternatives to Twitter and would aim to fill the void for a specific group of users should Twitter struggle.
The 15-year-old microblogging platform was trending in the early 2010s. But it failed to achieve wide cultural spread like Facebook and Instagram did, and shuffled through a wave of owners in search of commercial success. While its interface feels a bit relic of the 2010s, Tumblr has retained an avid base of users and remains a favorite among fandoms. Part of the appeal of Twitter is that it allows groups of fans and other online communities to connect about common interests. Tumblr has already demonstrated its ability to fill this need for its user base and could fill the gap for buoyant Twitter users.
Twitter serves as a hub for news and real-time information, and some see the newly created post as an attractive entry point into that space. Noam Bardin, a Google GOOGL,
A veteran who worked on the Waze navigation system calls himself the service’s “Chief Poster” and describes Post as a place for “real people, real news, and civil conversation.” The post “will oppose any attempt by the government to censor speech on our platform,” but also has “rules that we intend to enforce rigorously through content moderation through our community,” according to a message Bardin posted to the service . He added that on Post, people can write and share “posts of any length,” as well as chat, buy individual articles from publications, and tip content creators.
“Discord” might sum up what’s going on on Twitter, but it’s also the name of another social media service that allows users to create spaces to discuss common interests with friends and strangers. Users can search for “servers” geared towards popular interests, such as stock trading, Ariana Grande, or Roblox Corp. RBLX,
Game Blox Fruits. Or they can create their own groups, intended for either friends or members of the public. While people can share text, images, and GIFs to the service, Discord also supports voice and video. The service presents another option for Twitter users hoping to connect with topics of interest in real time.