For many users, Twitter has looked like a sinking ship since Elon Musk took over.
Unwelcome changes such as reinstating accounts of far-right figures, banning criticism musk The sudden mass layoffs of employees have left some feeling uncertain about the future of the social media platform — or, more precisely, their own future on the platform.
so Twitter Users have been doing what people on wrecks do: they’ve been surveying the location of lifeboats and donning lifejackets.
This is reflected in the increasing number of people climbing onto other social media platforms and linking their new accounts to their Twitter profiles in hopes of staying in touch with their followers.
On Oct. 28, Google searches for “Twitter alternatives” spiked, the same day Musk’s acquisition was confirmed.
According to Google, the search is most popular in Germany, followed by Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Many rival social media sites have emerged as possible contenders.
Mastodon seems to generate the most “buzz” thanks to many celebrities and influencers such as Stephen Fry (91,000 followers on his new account) and Greta Thunberg (77,000 followers) with new platform.
Another popular alternative is Hive Social, which is driven by a Gen Z-friendly interface.
None of the widely considered alternatives is new, but Mastodon and Hive Social were generally unknown until October.
Other contenders for the social media crown include those who have already made a name for themselves by promoting their platforms as the home of free speech.
this includes truth societyset at donald trump After he was kicked out of Twitter in January 2021, the rapper’s platform Parler Kanye West The deal was publicly dropped shortly after he made some anti-Semitic remarks and said “I like a lot about Hitler”.
So how worried should Twitter be about these competitors?
A snapshot of the 50-day popularity of these platforms before and after Musk’s takeover shows the reality of this social media race.
Sky News has obtained data showing how many times the apps were downloaded in the UK and around the world by mobile data analytics provider data.ai.
Looking at UK downloads for Twitter, Mastodon, Hive Social, Truth Social and Parler, November 4th to 17th is a big time – Mastodon and Hive Social outnumbered Twitter several times in downloads.
Between November 5th and 12th, Twitter downloads in the UK began to decline, while interest in Mastodon skyrocketed.
The initial blip came after a large number of Twitter employees were abruptly laid off in late October. The site has also been hit by a flood of racist and bigoted posts, with users praising Musk’s intention to reevaluate the site’s moderation rules.
It also made the announcement that users would be able to pay to get a “blue tick” on their Twitter profile. This symbol was previously reserved for accounts that were somehow trustworthy or famous.
Interest in Mastodon and Hive Social spiked in mid-November as changes were paused on a “blue tick” after a problem, Twitter employees were told to commit to a new “hardcore” Twitter or quit, and numerous articles highlighted that other apps had release.
Downloads for Truth Social and Parler appear to have been largely unaffected by the Twitter turmoil, with the exception of a small spike in downloads for Truth Social on November 20th.
Judging by global downloads, Twitter’s popularity has remained largely unaffected by competitors. Mastodon, Hive Social and to a lesser extent Truth Social are similar in popularity to the UK market, but much smaller.
So, is the outrage over Musk’s version of Twitter just a storm in a teacup?
Matt Navarra, a social media consultant and industry analyst, told Sky News: “I don’t think Twitter is going to collapse…but how popular it will remain and how important the platform is to brands, news publishers and creators How attractive it is is another question.”
He believes Twitter will go through a period of not being the “polished product” that users expect from a company of its size and popularity, given the policy changes and the sheer number of employees being laid off or resigned.
Another challenge will be whether Musk’s Twitter will continue to be fun and engaging enough for users.
“The changes Elon Musk is making, such as bringing back some of the worst Twitter users during this amnesty for banned and suspended accounts, will not create a particularly pleasant Twitter environment,” Navarra said. “
Sky News has been keeping an eye on Twitter’s two main competitors, tracking how they are responding to growing demand and user reactions.
Mastodon has been Twitter’s most important competitor, according to the data.
Users have been adding links or Mastodon usernames (usernames) to their Twitter accounts as they have migrated platforms or are preparing to migrate.
As more and more users do this, Twitter has announced a short-term policy that Links to third-party sites are prohibited And blocked Mastodon’s Twitter account.
While Twitter’s behavior suggests they may be spooked by the buzz surrounding Mastodon, data.ai’s stats show downloads for the fiction platform leveling off in late November and early December.
Many users commented on Mastodon itself, other social media, blogs, and news publications that they found the platform difficult to use.
Although it looks similar to Twitter, it works differently. It is decentralized, which means it does not belong to one person or company.
Instead, users choose and join a “server,” which is essentially a community space. Users can still interact with the entire Mastodon user base, but the server essentially provides users with a home network of other like-minded accounts.
This means that each server operates with slightly different rules, including how content is moderated.
Founded in 2019 by a then 22-year-old, Hive Social was an attractive home for Gen Z users.
After being featured in Teen Vogue, its membership swelled to 1.5 million in November.
The app looks more like Instagram than Twitter, and has elements of blogging site Tumblr and even MySpace, one of the earliest social media sites, borrowing the ability to play music on your profile.
Or at least in theory. That feature, along with many others, such as direct messaging and Q&A tools, are currently turned off. Apps load faster, but many functions still lag.
Concerns over Hive Social’s security brought down the entire platform. The team expected the app to be down for two days, but it ended up offline for more than two weeks.
While some users applauded the small team behind it for taking the app down entirely before fixing it, it’s a cautionary tale for anyone considering quitting Twitter.
Navarra explained: “I think that online these days, we all have to be careful about where we put any information and post about ourselves.”
He said Hive Social was a victim of its own success, and its viral popularity meant its users grew from a few thousand to more than a million.
“It’s a challenge for a company to scale at this rate … it’s still learning and growing. And it has to do it very quickly.”
opponent of free speech
Musk has promised to improve what he calls “free speech” on Twitter.
That doesn’t seem to have much impact on social media platforms that have already built brands around the idea.
SimilarWeb, a digital intelligence platform, provided Sky News with daily visitation data for three such sites: Truth Social, Parler and Gab, whose website says Gab advocates for “free speech, personal freedom and the free flow of information online”. , but has repeatedly been associated with the far right and neo-Nazis.
Twitter was far more popular than those three platforms, and while Truth Social and Parler saw some spikes in engagement in November, Musk’s platform remained unimpressed.
While Twitter is weathering this initial storm, people will continue to focus on the platform as we head into the new year.
Navarra commented: “Twitter will never be the same again, we will see Twitter 2.0 in 2023.”