Some Twitter alternatives that dodge Musk’s paywall
• Many looking for Twitter alternatives again.
• Read limits blamed on web scraping.
• Hive regarded as one of the better Twitter alternatives.
In its Elon Musk era, Twitter is different in almost every way from what it was before. Since the chief of Tesla and SpaceX acquired Twitter around a year ago, it has been quite a ride for the company and users alike. So much so that under the ownership of Musk, there have been one too many instances where Twitter users were seen flocking away, looking for alternatives.
The most recent spectacle started on June 30, when Musk claimed that “several hundred organizations” were taking Twitter’s data in a process called scraping, and proclaimed that “it was affecting the real user experience.” So to curb the effects of data scraping, Musk decided that Twitter would no longer allow individuals to view tweets on the social media platform unless they logged into an account.
But that’s not all.
A day after Musk’s claim, thousands of users reported widespread problems in accessing Twitter. They received error messages stating they had “exceeded” their “rate limit,” violated Twitter’s rules, and downloaded/viewed too many tweets. The issue was soon followed by a new set of Musk restrictions.
He took to his Twitter account to announce that the platform would temporarily limit the daily posts users read to address concerns over data scraping. At first, without stating how long the limits would last or what could prompt him to lift the restriction, Musk shared that verified accounts were temporarily limited to reading 6,000 daily posts.
He further explained that unverified and new unverified accounts would be limited to reading 600 posts a day and 300 posts a day, respectively. Two hours later, the temporary limitation was then increased to 10,000 posts per day for verified users, 1,000 posts per day for unverified users, and 500 posts per day for new, unverified users.
Before the move, Musk was vocal about his dislike of organizations scraping Twitter for research or to train artificial intelligence programs. But limiting the number of tweets users can read was something no-one had anticipated. As with other frenetic Musk-era changes at Twitter, this one has motivated some users to try other alternatives.
Not the first search for Twitter alternatives
As TechCrunch puts it, interest in Twitter alternatives began in late October 2022, when the Tesla and SpaceX chief officially closed on his US$44 billion Twitter acquisition. “Continual chaos on the microblogging site has been the rule ever since.
Amid controversial policy decisions and overnight changes, some subset of the Twitter audience decided to exit to other sites to get their social fix — or at least experiment with different options for a time,” the article aptly says.
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Considering many remaining Twitter users once again found themselves at the same crossroads, we decided to look into the microblogging site alternatives that have been trending since the weekend.
Alternatives benefiting from the latest Twitter exodus
While many alternatives are available today, here are three that most likely may pose a challenge to Twitter.
When Musk bought Twitter nearly six months ago, many users felt it was the right time to leave the platform. Thousands of tweeters fled to Mastodon: a social media project designed from its start in 2016 to resist takeovers by billionaires.
Independently run servers – each with its moderators and users – can interact with each other’s posts, called “toots,” using an open protocol called ActivityPub.
Even other social media services can connect to ActivityPub, so no one app can monopolize the broader network that Mastodon is part of, called the “diverse.” Users must also choose a server to determine who would charge their data and what toots they see most often.
Mastodon gained roughly 500,000 users within ten days of Musk’s Twitter takeover on October 27, 2022. By the end of November 2022, there were 2.5 million users registered to the online network, an increase of around 300% within five months.
According to Statista, as of March 2023, the decentralized social media platform had over ten million registered users. There is, however, no clear indication of the number of users Mastodon has gained following Twitter’s latest havoc.
Still an invite-only app in its beta, Bluesky has around 50,000 users, and according to estimates from data.ai, the app has been downloaded more than 375,000 times. Which means many people are trying to get an invite.
Also, a decentralized social network and authenticated transport (AT) protocol is the technology upon which Bluesky is built. Bluesky says its AT Protocol allows users to own their online identity and move their account from one provider to another. According to Bluesky’s blog, users have complete control over their algorithm to give them autonomy over their experience on the app.
The platform temporarily halted new signups over the weekend following Twitter’s ruckus. “We will temporarily pause Bluesky signups while our team continues to resolve the existing performance issues. We’ll keep you updated when invite codes resume functionality. We’re excited to welcome more users to our beta soon,” Bluesky said in a post.
Incidentally, Bluesky is owned by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Though Bluesky’s architecture is similar to Mastodon’s, many users have found Bluesky to be more intuitive, while Mastodon can come off as inaccessible. However, to remain competitive, Mastodon recently simplified its signup flow, making Mastodon.social the default server for new users.
Like Mastodon and Bluesky, Hive Social was a beneficiary following Musk’s takeover of Twitter late last year. Within one week of Twitter’s change of ownership, Business Insider reports Hive had seen its users spike to more than two million.
According to TechCrunch, Hive Social, launched in 2019, has been dubbed as a Gen Z-focused social app created by Kassandra Pop. Hive combines concepts from various social networks, including Instagram, Twitter, and even MySpace, such as letting users add music to their profiles from Spotify or Apple Music accounts.
Some have argued that out of all alternatives to Twitter, Hive is one of the best. “It is user-friendly, not politically obsessed, and has a neat way of differentiating posts and profile feeds without all the bloat and fluff that modern Twitter has come to possess,” a report reads.