The social media apps we use, from best to worst

For a lot of people who supposedly hate social media, we certainly spend a lot of time on it.

According to a Pew Research Center report released in late 2022(opens in a new tab), only 33 percent of US adults have “some or a lot” of trust in social media, and among people who spend time on social media, the likelihood is greater that this is suffering from mental health problems (opens in a new tab), including depression. According to BroadbandSearch, an independent research site that compares internet service providers, the average American spends just over two hours a day on the same malicious platforms they claim not to trust. And it seems like new social media platforms are popping up every day — any type of online space where people chat publicly with one another, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and, yes, LinkedIn.

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There aren’t many social media platforms that are brand new in 2023, but there are dozens we spend our time on every day that have had some truly nightmarish moments in 2023. Unfortunately it’s the middle of the year, it’s time to put those nightmares in order.

In evaluating these social media platforms, I considered five questions:

How widespread is the app?

How grumpy does the app make me because of the content?

How grumpy does the app make me because of the UI?

How likely is it that the app will disrupt democracy?

How annoying are the influencers in this app?

There are many recently launched apps that didn’t make the list – Geneva, Diem, Melon, Pineapple, Somewhere Good – because they just aren’t widely used enough to judge how awful they are. I omit far-right social media apps like Parler and Gab—they’re all worse than the apps I write about here, and their content is too heinous for me to poke fun at in a listing.

Here are the social media platforms that have stolen our brains so far in 2023, from least to worst. This list is only my opinion, but it is also correct.

mastodon

A very nice escape from Twitter for the 20 minutes it was relevant.

Be honest

Fine, but nobody uses it anymore, so it’s boring now. To be clear, boring isn’t necessarily an insult when it comes to social media (see: Facebook further down the list, which I wish was more boring).

artifact

Boring but ok.

Blue sky

This app seems fine but I don’t have access to it. Send me an invite and I’ll do my best to double check.

Lemon8

A new app that annoys me, but others love it.

LinkedIn

There’s LinkedInfluencer (opens in a new tab) which is annoying but not actively harmful.

substack

Stay with me, but the newsletter platform is awesome this year. It introduced chats and notes to rival Twitter, and some of the better-known Substack authors make a pretty good living from their newsletters. It’s this low, however, because Substack isn’t without its problems: the platform allows for some pretty hateful speech, like Graham Linehan’s transphobic newsletter.

Snapchat

This would be higher if Snapchat AI wasn’t forced upon every single user.

tick tock

Can be hideous but can also give you a fairly constant amount of frog videos. It’s lower because whole nations are banning it because of – you guessed it – potential threats to democracy.

Instagram

I swear to god if I get another video about dieting I’m going to scream.

Facebook

Unfortunately for Facebook, most of us simply refuse to forget 2016 (opens in a new tab) and the Facebook Papers. In Tennessee (opens in a new tab) there’s an old saying – I know it’s in Texas, probably Tennessee – that says: ruin democracy once, shame on you – shame on you. Ruin Democracy Twice – You can’t ruin democracy again.

Twitter

Elon Musk 🥴