When Elon Musk’s controversial acquisition of Twitter closed late Thursday, critics of the billionaire’s plan to reduce oversight of content on the platform began considering their options if they leave the site.
Twitter, a beloved social platform since 2006, boasts a user-friendly interface conducive to public discourse among its 240 million monthly active users. The platform serves as an information portal for public figures, journalists, governments, and companies. But, Musk’s vision for the platform is leaving some worried that hate speech and misinformation will again be allowed to thrive.
There are a myriad of other social platforms out there with similar features to Twitter—though none have close to as many users of the bigger platform.
Whether people are looking to share their opinions, research, humor, or artistic content, the following platforms could be alternatives to Twitter for users who are looking to ditch the bird.
The first platform that online users often describe as a similar experience to Twitter is Mastodon. The platform prides itself as a decentralized open-source platform that can’t be sold and won’t go bankrupt because it doesn’t have a singular owner.
“At Mastodon, we present a vision of social media that cannot be bought and owned by any billionaire,” Mastodon’s pinned Twitter post reads. “Your ability to communicate online should not be at the whims of a single commercial company!”
On Mastodon, users can create profiles, upload photo and video content and post Toots—messages of up to 500 characters that happen to sound a lot like Tweets. The platform has a lot of other features that are similar to Twitter including a timeline view, “boosts,” which function like Twitter’s “retweets,” and “favorites,” similar to Twitter’s “likes.”
Unlike Twitter, however, Mastodon is not supported by advertising, therefore it’s free of ad-network surveillance. And because of Mastadon’s decentralized design, it doesn’t host all of its users in the same server like Twitter does. This means users can switch between different servers, but each server generally only hosts up to several thousand people at a time.
A gamer favorite, Discord offers an array of options for how people can use the platform to connect. Discord users can communicate through voice calls, video calls, and instant messaging privately with one another or in private groups—or they can share media and use those communication methods in larger public communities, called “servers.”
Discord’s thousands of different servers are a solid option for people hoping to connect around a specific topic—like video game streams, K-pop discussions, or cute-cat-photo compilations. One drawback of Discord’s server system is that users can only join up to 100 servers, and each server is only designed to host up to 250,000 users. Although server communities can apply to increase their capacity, they still remain significantly smaller than Twitter’s open platform.
Reddit is the largest and most established social media platform on this list. It connects people looking to meet others involved in specific communities. Like Discord’s servers, Reddit offers “subreddits,” pages that are dedicated to posts about a specific topic—allowing users to explore topics from the general (r/IAmA, famous for its “As Me Anything” Q&As) to the specific (r/MealPrepSunday) to the bizarre (r/breadstapledtotrees).
Unlike Discord, however, Reddit’s DNA is that of an old-school message board, and its functionality is largely limited to text and uploadable content. There are also fewer tools for person-to-person interactions, like the ability to place audio and video calls.
One thing to know: since the platform was founded in 2005, controversy has ensued over the company’s moderation of violent or offensive material and hate speech. Reddit has said that in its efforts to protect free speech, it does not ban content solely for being controversial, but the company has dedicated more resources in recent years towards regulating hate speech that violates the user guidelines.
This one is not quite online yet. The promising soon-to-be-launched platform is being created by one of Twitter’s own founders, Jack Dorsey. Bluesky, also known as “Bluesky Social,” started as a Twitter nonprofit initiative in 2019 under Dorsey when he was still the company’s CEO. Bluesky differs from Twitter and most major social media platforms with its decentralized protocol. The company says that Bluesky users will have control of their own data and the algorithms. Bluesky also touts “account portability,” meaning that users will be able to own their own published content and move their posts across different social networks.
Despite Bluesky’s ties to Twitter, the platform began with an independently hired team, and the company has previously said that Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter would not affect its operations or independence. As a “public benefit” project funded by Twitter, the company has no obligation to return revenue to its shareholders, and Twitter doesn’t have any controlling stake in the company.
In mid-October, Bluesky announced that the app would launch soon and that 30,000 people had signed up for its waitlist. The company is currently inviting people to sign up to try the app in its beta stages before it is publicly available.
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