Which social networks should we choose if we leave Twitter?
It’s been a failure since Elon Musk took control of Twitter last month. It fired half the company and decimated groups of content moderators that empowered trolls. The “verified” tag, an indicator of authenticity, encouraged fake accounts and forced users to subscribe or risk losing their verified status, which had to be paid for through an initial $8 per month subscription to Twitter Blue.
Since then, many journalists have made big announcements about their intention to leave the platform. The problem is that there is no place where everyone can meet. Until now, most of them continue to use Twitter reluctantly, while boldly creating accounts on other platforms.
This decentralized and open source platform launched six years ago, but since Mr Musk took control of Twitter, nearly half a million new users have reportedly signed up. Mastodon should provide a Twitter-like experience with the added bonus that since it’s not a sole proprietorship, it can’t be sold or go bankrupt.
Users can create a profile, upload photos and videos, and post “toots”. With a maximum of 500 characters, these messages are good news for those who struggle to be concise on Twitter. Other Twitter-like features include news feeds, “highs” similar to retweets, and “favorites” which are Twitter’s “likes”.
Its decentralized design means that users can register on different servers, but these can only have a few thousand accounts. Each server also sets its own moderation rules, which means they are not centrally managed by Mastodon. The idea is that if a small community starts to misbehave, it’s easier to take action.
If all this confuses you, imagine Mastodon’s servers working like email providers: you can have an account in Gmail and email someone in Hotmail. But this also means that the Mastodon isn’t super maneuverable and takes some time to get used to, which has become a point of annoyance for many users.
Per Mastodon explanation: “It’s very simple, your account is part of kerflunk and every kerflunk can talk to each other as part of bumblurt. Anyone you’re currently blooping with can see your bloops, but only people in kerflunk can see your mistakes. like email.”
— Stephan Dörner (@Doener) November 5, 2022
You can view the growing list of journalists already connected to the platform here and add your ID if you decide to join.
Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Reddit is probably the largest and oldest social network and has been serving its community for nearly two decades.
Journalists are used to frequenting r/Journalism, a “subreddit” or community page dedicated to a particular topic. However, interaction is limited to a series of text messages, images, and videos that you can comment on, share, or save.
For those looking to get off Twitter for hateful content, Reddit may not be the best choice. Despite having community guidelines in place, the platform is reluctant to remove offensive content and has said it wants to protect free speech.
This platform needs no introduction. LinkedIn is not a place to expand your professional network. The emergence of posts and articles has further benefited the platform as a place for engagement, news consumption and discussion. You don’t necessarily need to “connect” with interesting thought leaders, which can seem a bit direct and formal. Just “follow” them and their posts will appear in your feed.
Groups, events, pages, and newsletters are useful options for increasing your presence as a reporter. LinkedIn lets you share videos and photos. The biggest complaint against LinkedIn: that it has become a place for self-congratulation.
I have no idea why anyone is crazy about Mastodon when it’s terrible to use and there’s already another text-based platform where engagement has exploded and is full of recruiters/journos/opinion producers like Twitter…
gross i know but…
………….this is LinkedIn
— Sophia Smith Galer (@sophiasgaler) November 8, 2022
For now, it’s a bit of a pipe dream that former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has promised to launch in the coming months. For something that doesn’t exist yet, Bluesky is doing well: According to Google Trends, online searches for the platform have increased by 207.14% in the last 30 days, and more than 30,000 users are believed to be on the waiting list.
This platform has been around since 2017, but no one has heard of it. Its infrastructure is based on Mastodon’s open source code, and its mission is to be the safest place online. The Jester, an American hacktivist with a military background who says he built the platform to eliminate trolls, disinformation, foreign influence and spambots, has publicly blocked the six countries responsible for most cyberwarfare: Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Syria.
Does this mean that CounterSocial is xenophobic and racist, or does it make it a less effective platform because the most offensive content won’t end up in your news feed.
As with Mastodon, you can post 500-word videos, gifs, and photos from your phone. However, these may appear skewed because the “cleaner” feature removes all metadata from your media content. This type of problem adds to the overall weight of a five-column display platform like Tweetdeck.
You can create lists of users, topics or hashtags you follow and your own end-to-end encrypted public or private user groups. Features of interest to journalists include a tool that listens to more than 7,000 emergency radio frequencies and automatically adapts to discussions in the area in real time when a major incident occurs. The platform also offers virtual reality “rooms” that you can use instead of Mr. Zuckerberg’s Metaverse. Many of these features are available on a paid subscription basis, as this is CounterSocial’s business model.
Even more primitive than Mastodon, CoHost is another Twitter replacement platform still in beta. It’s very simple: no character limit and very little interest in “likes” and “shares”. However, anyone can register, follow other people’s posts, and request to follow someone else’s page. That’s it for now.
Tribel describes itself as “an innovative and pro-democracy alternative to Twitter, free from hate and fake news.” If you look closely, you’ll see a platform where mostly left-leaning, Democrat-supporting Americans have found their tribe. It is owned by two Democratic political activists who own the news website Occupy Democrats.
While Elon Musk is doing his best to bring down Twitter, @TribelSocial MAGA is growing in popularity as a Twitter alternative for progressives who avoid Twitter. We have an edit button, filter out hate and fake news, and we’re completely free – and always will be. pic.twitter.com/3fCOMaDtdv
—Tribel (@TribelSocial) November 8, 2022
To everyone’s delight, it has an “edit” (or “change”) button, which in itself may be enough to encourage journalists to sign up.
Tribel allows users to target a specific audience to increase engagement. You can also customize your feed by following or excluding topics (called “Categories”) from pets to the paranormal. Journalists who are devastated by the loss of a sky mite can gain more status there by becoming a “star” participant.
Speaking of Tribel, it’s also fair to mention Parler, which bills itself as a “free speech” alternative to the mainstream platforms. The social network, which is mainly used by right-wing Americans, is to be bought by Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who was banned from Twitter and Instagram after his anti-Semitic posts. He vowed to create “an ecosystem where all voices are welcome that will not fall into the hands of the abolitionists.” It reportedly has around 15 million registered users, including many Conservative politicians.
Its “free speech” bias means the platform is not for the faint of heart. Last year, it was even removed from the app stores of Google and Apple after its role in the events that led to the occupation of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and then reinstated. Parler has since reportedly updated its moderation policies.
This article was first published by Journalism.co.uk. Republished on IJNet with their permission.
Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash.