Tired of the Twitter turmoil? Here are 4 social media alternatives

Amid the turmoil at Twitter, some netizens are flocking to alternative social media platforms. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE – There has been no shortage of Twitter users threatening to quit the platform for alternative online communities since new owner Elon Musk’s blockbuster takeover.

The billionaire’s executive decisions have sparked controversy worldwide, such as his plans to axe half the company’s global workforce of 7,000, including an unknown number from the Singapore office, to cut costs.

Changes to Twitter’s policy on who gets a blue “verified” check mark have also caused a stir, as it is difficult to tell between authentic accounts and those who pay US$7.99 (S$11) a month to get a blue tick.

There are also talks to put the entire site behind a paywall, news outlet Platformer reported.

Hate speech has been brewing since the US$44 billion takeover, according to a study, which found that homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic terms were tweeted nearly five times more frequently than before.

Amid the turmoil at Twitter, some netizens are flocking to alternative social media platforms. Searches for social networking site Mastodon have surged locally in the past week, according to Google Trends. Queries on how to delete Twitter have also spiked in recent weeks.

While few of these alternative apps can match Twitter’s user base of some 400 million, nor mimic its features completely, some capture its approach to bite-sized content and may offer refuge for those in search of new pastures.

1. Mastodon

Named after the extinct mammoth, Mastodon appears to be the front runner for netizens in search of a Twitter alternative.

The open-source app recently announced it had topped one million monthly active users, after more than half a million joined following the Twitter deal. 

The six-year-old site has familiar-looking profile pages, hashtags and a focus on brief posts – dubbed Toots – to help those leaving Twitter settle right in.

But unlike Twitter, which is run as a singular platform, Mastodon is decentralised, with its users spread across community-controlled groups, called servers, similar to Reddit. Each server works like a mini-community that users select based on their interests, such as activism, the arts or even Singapore-related content.

Data is not accessible or controlled by a major organisation – a key difference from social media platforms like Meta and Twitter.

Users have praised the app for making it easier to build a community with like-minded users, but have criticised its unwieldy user interface.

2. Tribel

For those seeking a close alternative to Twitter, Tribel offers a similar experience with a focus on bite-sized text and image content, but markets itself as a “kinder, smarter social network”, with an emphasis on its no-abuse rules.

The site’s user base has doubled to 500,000 since September, just after it came out of beta testing three months ago.

Users can send posts to targeted audiences, which can rank posts to give them a boost in each category’s feed. Contributors who have built a reputation by making excellent posts that earn a lot of likes in a category will be given a star on their profile picture as a mark of credibility.

3. Bluesky

With a waiting list that has grown to 30,000 and counting, upcoming social media platform Bluesky, created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, is sure to be eagerly anticipated by Twitter leavers.

The spin-off platform, which is decentralised and open-source, promises to give users access to their data and algorithms. The idea is that it would be immune to the whims of one person or company, as it gives users the same rights as the owner.

The app is still in its beta stages.

4. Tumblr

A blast from the past, Tumblr has seen renewed interest since the Twitter ordeal, drawing headlines thanks to celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and Lynda Carter posting about their return to the 15-year-old platform.

The microblogging site also gained traction on Nov 10 with the launch of the US$8 “Tumblr Important Blue Internet Checkmark” verification ticks – a satirical jab at Twitter’s verification strategy. Tumblr said the ticks make a user “an important person on the Internet”, adding that the check marks “may turn into a bunch of crabs at any time”.

For those returning, Tumblr remains largely unchanged, supporting a host of content forms, such as long-form text, pictures, videos and tweet-like captions.

Tumblr in November updated its community guidelines to allow nudity, but not sexually explicit content, on the platform as long as users add a community label to mature content. This is so that other users can filter it out of their dashboard if they prefer.

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