Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter in October, many users of the social media platform have debated taking their minds elsewhere — and some actually have.

Some are protesting Musk’s spreading falsehoods, the surge in hate speech after he took office, his firing of half of Twitter’s staff and his reinstatement of former President Donald Trump’s account. Some believe that the site will eventually collapse entirely as many of the company’s engineers leave the company. And some just say that the site’s best days are behind it.

Anyway, Twitter has had some real “closing time” vibes over the past two weeks, with many longtime users heeding Semisonic’s advice: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

Here’s a look at where some Twitter users are testing the waters.

Sites like Mastodon are emerging as new (or renewed) alternatives to Twitter.

Barbara Ortutay/AP

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AP

Sites like Mastodon are emerging as new (or renewed) alternatives to Twitter.

mastodon

Established in 2014, Mastodon has garnered the most attention over the past few weeks and gained many users during that time. Mastodon says it had more than 2.5 million monthly active users as of Tuesday. Almost 180,000 people joined Mastodon in a single day last week, according to data scientist Esteban Moro.

Sooo what is Mastodon exactly?

It is an open source, decentralized social media platform. Anyone can start and host their own mastodon server and create their own community that can connect to other mastodon servers. Because it’s open source, anyone is free to use the program’s code—or even modify and redistribute it—as long as they abide by the rules of their license.

This is intentional. “No one is in control of the entire network,” founder Eugen Rochko told NPR earlier this month.

“It’s actually more democratic,” he said.

You can read more about the structure of Mastodon on the basic help page. This page explains, “Mastodon is not Twitter.” It states that the site will not encourage you to follow specific people, and that Mastodon does not emphasize a post’s popularity or virality: “What matters here is, in to interact in real conversations.”

Each server has its own set of rules and moderators, and moderators can act as gatekeepers for that server and decide who can join. Users of the different servers (known as instances) can generally interact with each other, although instances can form around specific interests, like one for journalists or cyberpunks or food and wine lovers. You can create accounts on more than one server, so you don’t have to choose the perfect community right away.

Mastodon offers some features that are familiar to Twitter users, such as: B. Quote tweets. Also, direct messages can potentially be read by a server’s moderator, so keep that in mind.

Starting from scratch on a new network can be daunting. Some Mastodon transplant recipients use tools like Fedifinder and Twitodon to find the accounts they know from Twitter and follow them on Mastodon.

Hive Social is among the burgeoning social networks that disaffected Twitter users have been exploring in recent weeks.

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Screenshot by NPR

Hive Social is among the burgeoning social networks that disaffected Twitter users have been exploring in recent weeks.

Hive Social

Founded in 2019, Hive Social is available as a mobile app for Apple and as a beta for Android. It offers a chronological feed (instead of the algorithm-determined feeds found on many leading apps) and states that it doesn’t “shadow ban” or prioritize specific accounts.

The app promises to “bring back what you used to love about social media in a new way.” Some aspects of Hive – like profile music – are reminiscent of a simpler time, namely the Myspace era. It’s also very photo-oriented, like Instagram or Tumblr.

Like Mastodon, Hive Social is experiencing rapid growth amid the Twitter chaos, although it appears that it is managed by just two people and rush to crowdfunding.

Hive Social was ranked #1 on Apple’s App Store chart of free social networking apps on Wednesday. beehive said on Monday that it had surpassed 1 million “Besties,” and on Tuesday it said it had gained 250,000 users overnight, although the email verification process doesn’t work. (Twitter, meanwhile, still ranks #1 on the App Store’s News Apps chart.)

On Twitter, new members of Hive cheered its growth, though some bemoaned the lack of a desktop app or website and said they’d had trouble logging in and using the username.

New social media site Post promises to be a more civil alternative to Twitter, but it's still building out basic features and working to accommodate the many thousands of people on its waitlist.

/ Screenshot by NPR

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Screenshot by NPR

New social media site Post promises to be a more civil alternative to Twitter, but it’s still building out basic features and working to accommodate the many thousands of people on its waitlist.

post

Founded by former Waze CEO Noam Bardin, Post aims to bring news and social media together in a Twitter-like fashion.

The site is aimed squarely at outgoing Twitter users, promising content moderation, the ability to write posts of any length, and “a civil place to discuss ideas.”

“Remember when social media was fun, introduced you to great ideas and cool people, and actually made you smarter? Remember when it didn’t waste your time and made you angry or sad? When you could disagree with someone without being threatened or insulted, “We want to bring that back in the mail,” Bardin wrote in a post on the site’s homepage.

Difficult to see what Post is offering as there is currently a long waiting list to participate. According to an email update Tuesday night, the site had 180,000 people on its waiting list, 20,000 people had been invited to participate and 16,000 had their accounts activated.

As with Hive, the site’s small staff struggles to keep up with demand. Bardin wrote that the “platform is holding up well”, but warned that users should be careful when choosing a username as they won’t be able to change it for a while and that questions sent to email support will unanswered for several days.

Bardin admits the site is still “half-baked” and missing basic features like the ability to search for other people to follow and a personalized feed of who you follow once that functionality is in place . “That means 1,000 people are all on the same feed, seeing the same thing. As you can imagine, that’s a lot of cat and dog pictures,” he wrote in an update on Saturday.

Legacy Social Media Networks

Of course, many Twitter users are already on other social media platforms. The insecure state of Twitter may spur them to use other popular social networks more or differently.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, and Tumblr all continue to exist, with their own quirks and moderation issues.

They may not have the same claim to “town square” status that Twitter sometimes aspires to, but to varying degrees, they exhibit some of the same qualities that Twitter has offered: news, entertainment, community, and endless feeds of content.

Can any website foster the same communities and conversations that thrived in the good days of the Vogel app? It’s still too early to know for sure, but many people are hoping the answer is yes.

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