As Twitter continues to change, a wave of alternative platforms have gathered attention, with former Twitter employees and enthusiastic entrepreneurs forming their own challenger apps.
Twitter has been in a rather chaotic period since Elon Musk’s takeover last year, which has sparked a wave of competitors seeking to nab a piece of its market.
Shortly after Musk became the owner, certain websites offering similar services reported a rush of new users. The social media site has since been hit with multiple job cuts, several outages and concern among advertisers.
Recent actions such as the temporary limit to the number of tweets users can read in a day and moving Tweetdeck behind a paywall have not been well received by some users, with tags such as Twitterdown and RIP Twitter spreading over the weekend.
Amid this chaos, several competitors are developing in the background, with existing social media players making their own alternatives to Twitter.
Lets take a look at some of the alternatives gaining traction in the market:
This growing challenger to Twitter is backed by one of the site’s co-founders, Jack Dorsey. Bluesky is a decentralised platform was announced by Dorsey in 2019, initially as a Twitter-supported project designed to fix the biggest challenges impacting social media platforms.
Work on the app was quiet for some time, until Bluesky launched in a private beta earlier this year. The beta was the first step forward in a while and gave hope to supporters that a public release is closer to reality.
The number of users on the site remains small and it is unclear when it will emerge from beta. Bluesky also claimed it had record-high traffic following Twitter’s reading limit announcement, CNBC reports.
In the initial aftermath of Musk’s takeover of Twitter, there were many existing social media sites that users could retreat too if they desired. But one platform in particular stood out at the beginning as a new nest Twitter users could flock to.
This was the decentralised microblogging platform Mastodon, which was first developed in 2016 by German developer Eugene Rochko.
Mastodon likely saw support due to how similar it is in Twitter in terms of style, with a newsfeed containing ‘toots’ instead of tweets, the use of hashtags and the ability to use mentions to find posts.
But unlike Twitter, the microblogging platform is a massive web of individual servers or nodes. Each has its own code of conduct, terms of service, privacy options and moderation policies, in line with its decentralised identity.
The day after Musk’s Twitter takeover deal was closed, Mastodon claimed it got more than 70,000 new sign-ups. The site appears to continue benefitting when issues on Twitter occur, as Rochko claimed the site’s active users jumped by 294,000 last weekend, which is around the time Twitter imposed its reading limit.
Other sites have been taking notice of Mastodon, with Mozilla expanding its presence on the site in May to test an alternative approach to social media.
Long-existing competitors to Twitter are also looking at the current chaos as an opportunity, with Meta days away from releasing its own major competitor to the social media site.
The company’s challenger app – Threads – has been spotted on the Apple App Store for pre-order and is expected to launch tomorrow (6 July). This app will be linked to Instagram and is expected to have a very similar layout to Twitter, with features such as posting, replying and reposting user’s “threads”.
Some criticism has been raised about the amount of data Meta takes from its users. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted the privacy information of the app, with the caption “All your Threads are [sic] belong to us”.
While its unclear how successful this app will be, its ability to leverage existing Instagram users and the fact it’s being created by a massive social media player could see it rise fast as a Twitter alternative.
The co-founders of Instagram – who sold their site to Meta (previously known as Facebook) in 2012 for $1bn, are developing their own news-based social media app.
The website was announced in January by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and was their first public venture since they left parent-company Meta in 2018. The site has been described as a sort of TikTok for news, letting users read articles from big and small publishers alike, eventually suggesting news stories to users based on their interests.
This personalised news feed is supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning, which are hot topics in today’s tech world. The site became available to the public in February and TechCrunch reported that Artifact had nearly 200,000 installs by 11 April.
Another existing social media site that capitalised on the market commotion is newsletter platform Substack. In April, the platform revealed its own short-form feature, to let writers share posts, quotes, comments, images and links with their readers.
This feature – Notes – bears clear similarities to Twitter, with the ability to like, share and comment on posts, along with a sidebar that shows symbols such as messages and notifications.
Substack said the biggest difference between Notes and other social media sites is a lack of advertising, as its subscription model would reward people for “respecting the trust and attention of their audiences”.
The reaction by Twitter was swift. The same week Notes was announced, users on Twitter claimed that any post that contained a Substack link couldn’t be retweeted or commented on. These claims were tested by SiliconRepublic.com at the time and found to be accurate.
On 9 April, Substack tweeted said that the “suppression” was over and called the decision the “right move for writers”.
After Twitter laid off a massive portion of its workforce, some of the company’s former staff banded together to make their own social media platform.
The platform appears to have a mixed style, with a larger focus on images and gifs similar to Tumblr posts. The site also retains common Twitter functions such as trending posts and hashtags.
The company managed to raise $2.75m in a pre-seed round at the start of 2023 and has since launched its platform in a closed beta. Today, Spill co-founder and CEO Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell claimed the platform welcomed 130,000 new users over the previous three days.
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