Which apps to use if you leave Twitter

Which apps to use if you leave Twitter


Twitter is going through major changes. For many loyal users of the 16-year-old site, Elon Musk’s recent takeover and subsequent management decisions are a sign that it’s time to use Twitter less or leave it altogether.

The rapid flow of news, commentary and arguments has already experienced problems, including a rise in hate speech and a fumbled rollout of a new verification system. Massive cutbacks and Musk’s own stance on free speech could lead to more widespread harassment and misinformation. Musk also allowed former President Donald Trump back on the site along with other controversial banned accounts.

On October 27, Elon Musk completed the purchase of Twitter and began taking control of the social media company, firing several key executives. (Video: Jonathan Baran/The Washington Post)

A number of companies are trying to fill the potential void. After the sale closed, a wave of people said they were moving to Mastodon, an open-source alternative that has been trying to catch on as a less toxic Twitter for years. Mastodon got 22,139 new accounts in the last week and 10,801 the day after Musk took over, Mastodon CEO Eugen Rochko said. The site now says it has more than 2 million monthly active users, while Twitter last reported 237.8 million daily active users.

Other smaller startups are eager to push their own unproven apps as the next alternative to Twitter, including Hive, CounterSocial, Post.News and Koo.

There is no exact replica or one app that will hit all the same spots. Even if an alternative looks and feels similar to Twitter, it won’t take off unless it can recreate the same dispersed network of people that Twitter spent over a decade creating. As with Facebook, ditching Twitter can mean spreading your online presence across several other apps. Leaving Twitter can also mean cutting things out of your online life permanently, like late-night doomscrolling or arguing with strangers online over sports. And maybe, just maybe, that’s okay.

Here are the options you can consider.

Privacy reset: A guide to the important settings you should change now

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Before you start: Be smart about trying new apps

When choosing new social networks or apps to test out, don’t blindly trust smaller companies with your data or personal information. Keep in mind that larger alternatives like Facebook and TikTok come with their own ethical and privacy concerns. To be safe, avoid giving apps access to sensitive information like your contacts (they will ask repeatedly). Check all your privacy settings, both in the app on your smartphone’s settings. Sign up with an alias email address and use a strong password and multi-factor authentication whenever possible.

For many users, Twitter is where they see the news happening in real time. Instead, place a news aggregator app on your phone’s home page, such as Apple’s News app or Google News. Both include a wide variety of outlets and local news sources, which may be the first to report on events in their areas such as shootings or disasters. Switching to traditional news channels has the added bonus of reducing the risk of misinformation, which can spread on Twitter during breaking news events.

If you prefer to create your own list of outlets, like you do on Twitter, try an RSS reader. Use an app like Feedly, Newsify or Inoreader. If you specifically enjoy the messy arguments over news stories between regular Twitter users, the comments section of any news publication should fill that void.

Get expertise and entertainment

One of the joys of Twitter is that you can read the minds of fascinating people for free. Academics, legal experts, reporters, comics and people who have devoted their lives to niche subjects all share their brilliance in an accessible way. Fortunately, there are many who post the same thoughts, in more depth, elsewhere.

Sign up for the newsletter. Many big Twitter personalities have longer-form offers, published through their employers or independently on Substack or Medium. You can also support creators on sites like Patreon and Ko-fi, which allow you to pay different amounts for access to their content. Follow them on other major social media sites, such as Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn. Finally, subscribe to podcasts featuring the same kind of smart, funny, and informative people you find on Twitter.

Forge personal relationships

People have found lasting friendships, even fallen in love and married, over Twitter. If you’ve already established relationships with other Twitter users, make sure you have another way to reach them, like WhatsApp, Signal, or Instagram. If you have a group of friends, it was probably time to start a group chat anyway.

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When it comes to making more of these connections, it’s more difficult. Email or instant message people you like posts on other sites. When you join other sites like Reddit, look for communities of people with similar interests and use instant messages or replies to start friendly conversations. Some dating sites have launched platonic versions of their apps specifically for meeting friends, including Bumble BFF, Meetup and Friender.

To find larger groups of people with similar interests, check out Facebook groups, join subreddits about the topics you’re most interested in, find relevant Discord groups, or see if there’s a similar group on Mastodon. If you were active on Tumblr, try visiting the page again. You can test out one of the smaller apps like CounterSocial which has a similar feel to Twitter, but be careful with data and security. Chances are, all your interests already have a thriving community on TikTok and YouTube, where you can participate in comments if you’re not interested in posting videos yourself. If you’re trying to find a specific community, look at their recent tweets and see if prominent members have said where they want to be next. If you don’t see the group you want thriving anywhere yet, you can start it yourself.

Get updates in an emergency

Federal and local agencies use Twitter to post updates on emergency situations, such as road closures from flooding, shelter-in-place orders during shootings and evacuation updates for wildfires. You can follow the agencies on Facebook instead, but your best bet is to make sure you get alerts sent directly to your phone.

How to never miss an emergency alert from shootings to wildfires

Check your phone settings to see what wireless emergency alerts you receive, such as Amber Alerts. Subscribe to your school’s or workplace’s notification systems, and find local notifications by looking up state, city or county council. A number of them use the text-based emergency notification system Nixle (to sign up, text your zip code to 888777).

Finally, you can delve into the controversial world of neighborhood crime apps, like Citizen and Amazon’s Neighbors app. They allow you to follow events as they happen in your area with updates from people on the scene, and many local agencies are already on them. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

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It seems that as long as job search and business jargon exists, LinkedIn will thrive. You’re probably already on LinkedIn, so just spruce up your profile and start posting or sharing what you’re working on there.

An exodus from Twitter could be the best thing to happen to Clubhouse, the audio chat room app that had a moment during the pandemic. Twitter copied Clubhouse with the Twitter Spaces feature, which has been a hit with many users. If you leave Twitter, Clubhouse is still around and hosts chat rooms around the clock.

TikTok has elevated mindless scrolling to an art form. If you use Twitter as a way to kill time or relax, TikTok is the best substitute. You can watch similar addictive video content on Instagram Reels, albeit a few days or weeks later. If Twitter scrolling is more of a hassle than an enjoyable way to pass the time, consider checking out e-books from your local library to read on your phone instead. You get the same feeling of scrolling through nonstop text on your screen for free, but with less anxiety.

Stay safe but protect your data

If you want to wait and see what happens, you can do so while minimizing potential privacy risks from new management or a drop in moderation. You can even ghost yourself on the app without having to leave it entirely.

How to Lock Your Twitter Data, or Leave, When Musk Takes Over

If you use Twitter anonymously to communicate sensitive information, or worry about online harassment, do these things immediately: Backup all tweets and follow lists, delete sensitive DMs (both sides must delete it), delete old tweets and lock privacy and anti-harassment settings.

We walk you through each of these steps in this guide. Even if you’re not concerned about your Twitter presence, you should export a copy of your Twitter data now so you have a list of people you follow before they leave.

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