an illustrated image that used to display when Twitter was over capacity. Over a twitter blue background a white cartoon while is being lifted by 8 orange twitter birds
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November 7, 2022

Twitter and What’s Next

With Elon in charge of Twitter, a lot of changes have happened in the last week. He decided that anyone who wanted to be verified could pay $8 a month, defeating the purpose of verification. Elon fired employees who are responsible for things like accessiblity. He fired the ethics team, who had focused on the ethics of AI. That team had received recognition for addressing the issue of how Twitter’s images autofocused when thumbnailing. As it often focused on white people in the image even if they weren’t the subject. And based on these changes, people are asking what’s next. Not just for Twitter, but where people are headed.

Admittedly there are a lot of people who are stubbornly set against moving. Many I can understand. The disabled community in particular, as well as other marginalized groups, would have to pick up and rebuild elsewhere. Not everyone has the access or time to do so. Especially not with days before an election.

But the bulk of people just sound like boomers. They just don’t want to learn another platform.

I find it odd, given that as much as the internet is “forever” – it’s also ephemeral. It’s always growing, changing. And you can’t predict what site/platform will last and which will crumble. ┬áIt took over a decade for Twitter to become what it is now.

Only a few years ago, everyone deemed Tumblr dead, and here it is, still hanging on and finally growing in impactful ways.

I’m getting besides the point. Where can you go if Twitter vanishes?

Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging site. It’s in essence a community built on sharing the things you found interesting. As a user, you can both create posts and reblog or like posts. Your feed consists of blogs that you follow, as well as a small amount of recommended posts based on your likes.  When you reblog something, it not only shows up in your feed, but the feeds of everyone who follows you.

There was a huge exodus when Tumblr began cracking down on sex and nudity. Why? In order to remain on app stores, they had to ban any type of adult content. Instead of giving users tags to mark adult content, they started banning posts that showed anything adult and banning accounts. A not insignificant amount of people left the platform.

What remained?

What remained is an odd community surrounding fandom, writing and art – as well as aesthetics. Since it was purchased by Automattic (the owners of WordPress.com) for far less than what Yahoo! paid for it, new features have begun to roll out. The app is far less buggy, there are now flags for content that didn’t used to exist. There are some new features like quick reblogs.

And even any pay options are purely within the Tumblr vibe. While you can pay to go ad-free, you can also pay to unleash crabs on a friend’s blog. An April Fool’s joke that was unexpectedly popular. You can pay to promote a post using a feature called Blaze. In true Tumblr form, you can’t segment the audience you want to target. You pay for the audience and it just goes out. Most Blaze posts have been surprisingly wholesome. I’ve seen people use Blaze to share pet pictures, remembering lost loved ones, or even just good news.

The bad: there are a lot of puriteens in fandom. The teenagers who believe that all spaces they inhabit should be just as they intended. They think that fandom is only for children and that adults are weird for having hobbies. Another frustrating part- there are still bots that create blogs in the hopes that you follow them back. Then they start posting adult content. Another odd aspect, there’s a growing number of people who were on TikTok first. They have no idea how the platform works, and treat it just like TikTok. So they have blank blogs (like on TikTok) and don’t reblog anything. And they’re surprised they get blocked.

Mastodon

Mastodon is a newish platform which is built of a bunch of servers geared towards specific interests. You can follow anyone on any mastodon server, and each server has it’s own rules/mods. There is a bit of a learning curve, and because each server has their own rules, your experience could vary depending on where you landed.  And with the boom, it’s up in the air how well it can be moderated.

Moreover, while the browser experience is pretty robust (you can even set up a column view like Tweetdeck), there is no official app – so your experience varies based on the app you’re using.

There are a number of scripts built to find the people you follow & who follow who that list their mastodon handle in either their profile, name, or pinned tweet. My favorite so far is Fedifinder which allows you to search your lists, following, followers.  You can even scan your blocked accounts.

It’ll save it as a CSV, which can merge into your own following to grow who you follow – and yes, you can upload your blocklist as well.

Co-host

Another new platform, co-host has a waiting list to try to curb too much growth too fast. I’m still learning this one, but so far it seems pretty good.

You can easily create multiple blogs, and switch between them.  I don’t believe there’s any app yet.

Dreamwidth

This is an oldie – created shortly after a Russian company bought Livejournal and started purging fandom and LGBTQ content, it uses the same sourcecode as LJ.  It never fully caught on, but you can create communities.

I admit that I haven’t revisited this one in awhile.

What have you found? Am I missing anything?

Where you can find me.  I’m on Tumblr (username only by request, since I post fannish stuff there), and I’m on Mastodon at https://mastodon.social/@whitneyd and Cohost at https://cohost.org/whitneydrake.