Twitter and its alternatives – a social media rant

To the surprise of nobody, Twitter has been going tits-up since the Muskrat took over. I’m still 50/50 on whether all the drama is him deliberately trying to tank Twitter for some reason, or if it’s some weird marketing strategy. Did he buy Twitter to kill it or is this whole thing an elaborate case of “all publicity is good publicity”?

Either way, it’s sad to see. Not that I’m some power user, I tweet only a few times per week, but it is my main social media. But now I’ve been doing like everyone else and started looking at the alternatives. If not Twitter, then what? Here’s the ones I’ve taken a closer look at:

Mastodon

It sounds like a great idea when you first hear about it. “Decentralised” has an appealing slightly rebellious ring to it. But my issue with Mastodon is just that: the decentralisation.

The number one issue is that the whole thing comes off as WAY too complicated.

Any type of social media that requires long-winded blog posts to be understood is too much for most regular people. There’s so much to learn about what it is and how it works that I’m exhausted before I’ve even started. I shouldn’t have to read all these guides and explanations about what the fediverse is and how it functions to understand how to use the site. It’s not rocket science, but Mastodon sure does its best to make it feel like it is.

Another problem is how every server is run by whoever rando decided to start an instance.

It’s as if every single Discord or Reddit mod got the power to kick people out of Discord/Reddit as a whole. What if the mod suddenly changes the rules in some bad way? What if the mod of your instance suddenly choose to “defederate” and thus leave the instance separate from all the other? What if the mod suddenly deletes the whole instance because reasons? What if you say something that the mod doesn’t like so they kick you out? All of this can happen on other social media too, but it’s even more likely when it’s not one dedicated mod team working for the whole enterprise.

Seeing how Discord/Reddit mods often act, I’m not convinced having all these instances is a good thing… Sounds like you have to pick a very large well-established instance – or be very very careful in your choice.

Once I joined a (large well-established) instance (after spending over an hour googling and reading about which instances are good because it seemed like such a big deal) most of the users appeared to take their site very seriously in a way that isn’t to my taste at all. Lots of posts about Mastodon etiquette and how this isn’t Twitter and people shouldn’t use it like that etc.

Well, I’m looking specifically for a Twitter alternative, so I think I’ll see myself out. No, I’m not gonna join a different instance, I’ve already spent way too much time on this.

CoHost

Now, this one also sounds nice when you read about it and what it stands for. No algorithm, no ads, interpersonal relationships before metrics. All good things.

My only issue with CoHost is that it comes off as more of a proper blogging site. Every post has a title and a body and a dedicated space for tags. Tags that you absolutely have to use if you want anyone to see your content. The only way to find anything is searching for users or hashtags so there’s no way to just stumble upon content. Which is nice, I guess, but also makes me feel like I can’t just upload a picture or post a random thought, I have to make a proper post about it. And that also aligns with how I see other people use CoHost. A lot of people appear to use it more as a proper blog than a microblogging service.

Problem is I already have a blog. I want something that allows me to share short simple things without having to put much effort in, and CoHost doesn’t seem to be it.

Hive Social

This one kinda breaks my heart. Out of all the Twitter alternatives I’ve seen, this one looks the most promising to me. It’s like a nice blend between Twitter and early pre-reels Instagram. Lots of focus on images, which I like, but you don’t need one to post. A search/discover/whatever it’s called page that lists a bunch of different categories as well as hashtags you’ve subscribed to. The people I’ve seen come off as generally nice and friendly, very positive vibes all around.

The whole app is right up my alley! Except… it doesn’t work.

The Android app is so slow, sluggish, and unresponsive that using it is like dragging an arthritic sloth through treacle. When opening the app it takes several seconds, sometimes close to a whole minute, before it even loads. Every click takes several tries or several seconds before registering, often not going through at all.

I don’t know what the iPhone version is like, but on Android, it’s completely unusable. And they don’t even have a desktop version?!

On top of the performance issues, moderation leaves a lot to be desired. There is an NSFW filter that can be enabled/disabled at will, but it hinges on the users tagging their content properly. Also, it doesn’t seem to take nuance into account.

I enabled NSFW because I don’t want to filter out artistic nudity. Unfortunately, that means I’m also subjected to full-on porn. Now, I’m not huffy about that type of content, but there’s a world of difference between a nude figure drawing and an actual dick pic and I would prefer it if I could keep the latter separate from the former.

And on top of that, the company doesn’t appear to be up to the task. They found some massive security holes recently and the whole app has been completely offline for days now. On Twitter they talk about the server. Singular. I really hope that doesn’t mean they have one lonely server dedicated to running everything? Would definitely explain the slowness though…

I get that it is early days and they are probably horribly understaffed, but bottom line is Hive isn’t ready yet. Which is such a bummer.

SpaceHey

SpaceHey is more or less a clone of the classic MySpace. I was never on MySpace so I don’t have any particular nostalgia connected to that site, but SpaceHey does look exactly how I remember it.

It’s definitely not a Twitter alternative, and I definitely don’t need a whole website-type thingy like this, but it’s wonderfully old-school and I love the idea! I’d love to join but have no idea what I would even use it for?

What about the old social media sites?

Facebook is for my parents. Or for people with kids. As an elder millennial, I’m one of Facebook’s biggest demographics and it should be perfect for me, but I’ve never taken to the site. Not even when it was new. Nowadays when I log in it’s nothing but embarrassing minion memes and people posting about their children. And ads. And suggested posts brought to me by the almighty algorithm. And more ads. Thanks but no thanks. The only good part of Facebook is the local groups where I can see what’s happening near me.

Instagram used to be my favourite social media, but then they killed first the chronological feed and then the still pictures. Everything is a story or a reel now, and I hate both with a passion. We’re not even gonna talk about the curated feed showing an abhorrent number of ads and only a fraction of the people I follow… Instagram can fuck all the way off.

Tumblr is fun enough but I never found a proper use for it. Again, I already have a blog so see no reason to use Tumblr as one. Tumblr also has so many quirks and unspoken rules it’s not easy to know how the userbase wants/expects you to use it. It also seems weirdly impersonal. Like there’s a lot of content, but it’s just reposts of reposts of reposts and very few original creators?

TikTok is something I’ve never used and never will. I already hate stories and reels, why on earth would I want a whole app with nothing but?

What else is there?

Very niche ones like Goodreads and Last.fm and such, but those are just that: niche.

Twitter is great because it’s a) simple and b) everyone is there. You can find your neighbour, your favourite musician, and your country’s prime minister all under one roof. And that’s all I want: a dead simple microblogging site chock-full of people and with a chronological feed. Is that too much to ask for? 😩

If I’m being honest, I’ve started turning away from social media as a whole. The fun is wearing off and I rather put my energy into my own sites.

Question is, where is everyone else going? If anywhere?

Comments

  1. 5 December 2022

    Yeah I mostly just use Twitter. Only other one I have is Facebook but I barely use it.

    Only one of these is consider using is Hive, but I’m holding off for now.

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  2. 1 January 2023

    Karin, it’s been ages but I’m still reading you. I’m Alice, the @alicegreenleaf who used to blog. SO much has happened since then and when the world went shit, my inner world went too and I took a break from everything. It turns out that I no longer have a place where I want to be online, besides some niche Discord servers (I’ve thrived there!). I no longer feel like sharing about my life in a blogging format and I take photos only when I absolutely want to and I send them to my parents on WhatsApp and that’s about it.

    I won’t hide that I tried Mastodon some weeks ago. I joined a heavy metal instance because I had no idea what else to join and the guy running it seemed good and people were friendly but the platform itself is way too complicated for my simple needs. And I have realized that I don’t have much to say anymore, I mostly lurk around.

    Lately, a friend of mine dragged me on Tumblr, I reblog quotes and gifs about books that mean something to me and occasional photos and that’s about it. I have like 3 people following me but it’s okay. I miss the old days when Twitter only supported brief text lines and you had to start with “RT…” if you wanted to retweet someone. It used to be my favourite social media until I joined Instagram but with the advent of Stories everything has changed.

    I’m glad you are still blogging from time to time :)

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    • 20 January 2023

      Alice, how nice to hear from you! :D I hope you’re doing well. Recognizing your needs and stepping away sounds very healthy. I’ve been thinking about quitting both social media and this website several times, but so far I’m still here. I’m so used to having a website that I don’t think I’d be able to NOT have one at this point, lol. And I’m glad you’re still reading :)

      I’m slowly warming up to Mastodon. It’s hardly ideal but… it’s ok. Better than what Instagram has become and better than where Twitter seem to be heading at least. Casually reblogging things on Tumblr sounds like the best use of social media tbh.
      If you ever decide to get back into blogging/website-ing again I suggest you check out the Yesterweb movement. It’s a whole community of people trying to reclaim some of the old Internet and how we interacted with each other back then.

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  3. 7 January 2023

    I hate what has happened to twitter since that took over it tbh, I have never seen so much misinformation and hate on there since he took over, and I hate him. But, like you it is my main social media account. With his recent choices I would think he is trying to kill Twitter tbh. I’ve also looked for alternatives for Twitter, but I haven’t found anything that I thought was a decent replacement, or if it comes close no one is there like by why I am on Twitter whys, if that makes since.

    I do like the idea of mastodon and I have one, but it’s missing the audience. I also love Pillowfort, and there is a small audience but a very small one. I like the idea of Hive Social but if I can’t use it on a computer than I don’t want to use it. I also like the idea of Spacehey but I don’t know anyone on there either.

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    • 20 January 2023

      Yeah, the lack of people is a problem. You have to be where your friends and other interesting people are or you just end up talking to yourself. It’s why Twitter is so hard to quit, everyone and their aunt is there!

      I’ve never heard of Pillowfort, it looks kinda like Tumblr? Might check it out :)

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  4. Anca
    13 January 2023

    I was nearly out of twitter, then the full-scale invasion started and now I’m more active than ever, including doing what I call “NAFO shifts” of reporting hate-speech by russian trolls and bots.
    I think Musk was delusional and thought he will change twitter for the better.

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