Twitter users have talked about moving their thoughts elsewhere, since Elon Musk acquired the social networking site in October; some have already done so. Elon Musk's decisions to fire thousands of Twitter staff, change verification policies, reinstate Donald Trump's Twitter account after it was previously suspended for breaking Twitter’s policies, and suspend journalists who had reported on Musk – have led many to seek alternative platforms.
Will the controversial changes at Twitter drive it to the same graveyard of once-mighty digital brands like Yahoo, AOL, and Myspace?
While we await details of the funeral arrangements, new alternatives like Post and Mastodon have emerged. Here’s a quick look into both platforms.
Founded by former Waze CEO, Noam Bardin, Post is a social media outlet aiming to bring together news and social media.
Like any newer social platform, Post has its areas for improvement. The site needs help to meet demands due to its small staff. Any questions sent to email support will take many days to be answered. Post does not have the option for users to change it. As such, the user must keep the same username with which they start. Unlike Twitter, Post lacks a personalized feed of fellow followers, meaning if 2,000 users are online, they all see the same content on their feeds.
There is no character limit on the length of posts, a contrast from Twitter's limit of 280 characters. Bardin said the company plans to "rigorously enforce" its content moderation policy against harassment, bullying, and other inappropriate content. The plus side to joining Post is the mission statement Bardin stands by, which celebrates diversity.
The mission statement’s celebration of diversity stands by freedom of speech with encouragement to celebrate ideas and build a community. Twitter’s rapid-fire feed of news, analysis, and debate has already encountered problems, such as increased hate speech and a botched implementation of a new verification system. Post seeks to be the anti-Twitter.
The site has attracted the attention of journalists who it hopes to serve, monetize, and help make money for themselves Post plans to use micropayments to monetize news articles and reward high-engagement users.
Mastodon has been on the scene since 2014, and its decentralized, open-sourced social media platform allows users to use the program's code freely – even to modify and redistribute it if they follow the rules of its license.
The selling point of Mastodon is the real-life interactions with its users. The platform is open-source, and anyone can create their own Mastodon group, known as "instances" or "servers."
Although user groups may form around particular interests, such as ones for journalists, cyberpunks, or food and wine fans, “Instances” can interact with users outside their forums. Some servers, such as Mastodon.social, let anyone join, while others require a server administrator's invite or approval process. So as to not limit on-platform access, Mastodon users can still follow and connect with others outside the server they joined when they created an account.
For better or worse, the popularity or virality of a post is not highlighted on Mastodon’s or Post's websites.
Although many users have started looking for alternatives due to the chaos, it is challenging to replicate Twitter's extensive ecosystem of news, humor, and ongoing interaction. Like Twitter’s early days in 2008–09, both Post and Mastodon have some missing functionalities and discussions. The common denominator with these platforms is that almost all new social networks have kinks to iron out, initially. However, should Post and/or Mastodon build up their infrastructure to support more users properly, they may become more-frequented platforms and eventually attract more publishers and revenue.
As Twitter's early years demonstrated, scaling to support millions of users is challenging. Stay tuned.