We’ll be honest with you. There is no 1:1 Twitter replacement – not yet and possibly never.
Still, there are plenty of social apps worth replacing in your obsessive timeline checking routines if you’re done with Twitter for whatever reason (we can think of plenty).
The current state of Twitter — advertisers leave, Nazis log back in, little things break here and there every day — offers an opportunity to check with ourselves what we really want from a social network.
We don’t just have to use social apps because they are there and they are very sticky. Users should get something out of the exchange, especially with ad-supported services. Whether it’s building a following for your fledgling business or connecting with people in communities you care about, social media should serve a function – not just waste hours of the day.
Fortunately, there are options. Decentralized projects offer a different experience that relies less on business whims, while less traditional social platforms can offer a completely different set of interactions and experiences. But that’s okay. Twitter wasn’t perfect, and while it was, and probably still is, pretty essential for real-time events and news gathering, its most engaged users didn’t always enjoy spending time there.
While we’re sorting it all out and seeing what pops up next, here are some options to consider.
Mastodon emerged as the most talked about home for fleeing Twitter users – and with good reason.
The service is designed to decentralize power and moderation decisions, removing concerns about one person setting platform-wide rules on a whim.
Mastodon is much like Twitter, allowing users to share real-time thoughts with an account and re-share posts from others. But that’s usually where the similarities end. Unlike traditional social networks, Mastodon is an open source option, meaning that instead of all users being in one big basket with one set of rules, you have to select a server (smaller basket) to join.
If you get tired of it or disagree with those moderation decisions, you can migrate elsewhere. You can still follow and interact with people on other servers, so you shouldn’t worry too much about that choice, but that decentralized ethos colors the whole experience.
Like a choice of server, you also have a choice of which app to use to use the service on mobile (we like Metatext and plan to check out Ivory, from Tweetbot creator Tapbots). Mastodon’s open source nature means you have more choice everywhere, but the downside to that is that the extra steps can be off-putting for people who want a simpler signup process.
That said, if you’re tired of the cynicism and harassment on Twitter, the vibe on Mastodon is pretty chill right now. If any of this sounds interesting, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Disagreement doesn’t work like Twitter at all, but hear us out: it’s one of the best social apps out there.
The app was originally created to give gamers a better way to chat, but it has since gone way beyond that initial vision. Like Mastodon, Discord doesn’t offer a giant “public plaza”, instead offering topic- and interest-based servers for anyone to join and hang out with. Discord offers regular text chat within its server-based channels, as well as seamless voice chat and some other experiences, such as streaming a game to friends or queuing together for YouTube videos. Some of the most popular servers have hundreds of thousands of members, but you can also just build one for friends or family.
Through servers, Discord offers some of the same federation benefits as Mastodon without the open source stuff some people dread when onboarding. Unlike some of the other options on this list, Discord isn’t going anywhere for now: it’s a mature company with a thriving user base and a sustainable business built around paid subscriptions. That kind of stability goes a long way for social apps, which historically tend to disappear and vanish overnight.
The downside is that Discord is more about chatting than posting. The app’s Slack-like interface refreshes in real time, and in a busy Discord, or even one with a few hundred active members, it’s easy to lose track of conversations quickly. The company knows that and is actively building more tools that enable asynchronous interactions, so that’s something to watch out for.
After is a mainstream alternative to Twitter that has little in common with more open platforms like Mastodon. The platform was accelerated into private beta to take advantage of the timing of Twitter’s recent chaos and is only just opening up to everyone. Far from being decentralized, Post offers a more curated experience aimed at attracting the journalists who usually spend the day on Twitter.
Post allows users to write, post, share, comment and like content just like we are used to on Twitter. But the purpose of the service is very different. Post wants to help news aggregators monetize their content, build in micropayments and tips, and promise the ability to purchase “individual articles from different premium news providers” to get outside their information bubble. Far from being an open platform, Post is backed by VC and traditional investments from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and technical commentator Scott Galloway.
Post’s pitch is compelling, but the social network sounds a bit like it was designed in a vacuum. Those of us who work in the news might watch it or hang out there, but it’s hard to imagine many average Twitter users lured in by the promise of paying for journalism, which is unfortunately a hard sell. Post could develop a more Substack-like commenter culture, but even then it’s hard to see why the Substack elite would spring for a new platform.
While you may not think of it as an alternative to Twitter, hear us out, as there are some similarities between the two platforms that make it a notable contender.
Even though Tumblr teeters more toward being a microblogging site than a traditional social network, it has a feed that displays posts from people you follow in a similar fashion to Twitter. Tumblr lets you post content with images, GIFs, videos, and more. You can leave notes on a post, similar to comments. You can also like, share and repost content on the platform. Tumblr also has a popular topics section, such as Twitter. In addition, the platform has a chat feature similar to direct messages on Twitter.
Tumblr offers more flexibility than Twitter while being simple to set up and use. You can use Tumblr for free or opt for an ad-free experience with additional features for $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year.
Given Tumblr’s ability to stay alive despite the stock changing hands, we don’t think it’s going anywhere, making it an ideal alternative to Twitter. It’s also a place with its own unique humor and chaotic culture that’s a big part of Tumblr’s unique appeal.
although co-host is still in beta stage, anyone can sign up for the service. If you don’t have an invite, you’ll have to wait a day or two before you can start posting. The website says that this measure is intended to prevent spam.
Cohost offers a vertical feed that displays posts chronologically, as opposed to an algorithmic list. Like Twitter, Cohost has followers, reposts, likes, and comments. At the moment the interface is quite simple and since no algorithms are used there is no trending section. The platform will not display any content unless you actively search for it using hashtags.
You can use the platform for free or pay a monthly fee of $5 for additional features, such as larger uploads and more customization options. The company says the fee mainly helps it keep the lights on as it continues to grow.
Since Cohost is fairly new and a bit rocky, it may not be the most established Twitter alternative. But it may appeal to people who want a simple alternative that resembles Twitter in some ways. We’ll have to wait and see if it can garner enough users and traction to be considered a worthy alternative.
Wild card: Bluesky
We don’t know much about it Blue sky, but what we do know is intriguing. Bluesky was developed in parallel with Twitter and led by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Like Mastodon, Bluesky is all about the decentralized social network, meaning giving people the resources they need to form their own communities.
There’s been some backlash to Bluesky because of the Dorsey connection, but we’re still interested to see what the project comes up with when it eventually expands its super-limited closed beta. The Bluesky team is apparently launching an app along with the protocol itself, and the result could combine a Twitter-like UI with algorithmic choice, a federated design, and community-specific moderation. We listen.
We’ll keep this list updated as we explore new social apps in the coming months that might bring on the Twitter itch. Love we haven’t mentioned here? Let us know: [email protected]