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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December 22, 2022

Updated: Twitter, what’s next in social media

It was only a month and a half ago I blogged about what was going on with Twitter and what was next on the horizon with social media. While I think we all predicted that Twitter was on the decline, I don’t think that anyone would have foreseen just how quickly things would devolve – and not purely from a technical standpoint.

Over the last month or so, Elon Musk has fired a large number of Twitter’s engineers. He evaluated people based on their code output, not understanding that some people were specialists in their field. So they’d already written their code – their job was making sure new updates played well with the legacy elements. He fired people without any knowledge of the labor laws in their countries. And it just keeps getting worse.

I’m updating my list of options based on trying some of these things out, and some of the ones I hadn’t included last time.

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.

Hive Social

Hive is an app based social media platform, that has the most similar feel to the Twitter app without being Twitter. They’ve explicitly said that there is no room on the app for hatred. It will have some of the fun elements of MySpace – music on profile pages, and a lot of customization.

The biggest downside is that it’s a very small team working on this. A major security flaw was pointed out, and the app was unavailable for over two weeks while they fixed it. There has been some misinformation about the political backgrounds of some of the people involved – but there was a prior platform called Hive that’s being conflated with this one.

Post

Post is another platform with buzz, but it’s worth noting that it was founded by a VC firm, and largely seems like a place for journalists to go. Which is all fine and well, but it seems like it could easily become another Musk!Twitter, given that they seem more interested in monetization options than building a community.

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. I’m also whitneydrake on Hive.