Since Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, the social media platform has been in the headlines constantly. There have been a string of high-profile debacles. Many people seem to be anticipating its failure. In fact, it seems that even big players like Meta want to replace Twitter.
Let’s take a look at the situation by the numbers. Since Elon Musk’s takeover, Twitter has lost 70% of its staff. By the end of 2022, the site had lost more than half of its 100 largest corporate advertisers. They were responsible for a large chunk of the site’s revenue.
In addition, Elon Musk’s overexposure in the public eye has garnered him many die-hard fans. However, it is also causing many people to turn against him.
They either don’t think he is cool anymore or find his online persona offensive. As a result, they don’t want to use any of his products or be associated with any of his brands.
Is it likely that any competitor could truly replace Twitter though? After all, people are creatures of habit. They are used to Twitter. Some users have been on the platform for about a decade.
Let’s take a look at some of the players who want to leverage the chaos at Twitter and poach its users.
Internal company documents show that Meta is working on a text-based social media platform under the Instagram brand.
The new platform still doesn’t have an official name. It is internally known as “P92” or “Barcelona.” However, you will be able to see from the slide below that it follows Instagram’s branding and colors.
According to 9to5Mac:
The app’s interface is actually quite similar to Instagram’s, but instead of a feed of photos and videos, the app’s home shows a timeline of “text-based” posts, as described by the company. Of course, users will be able to attach photos, videos, and links to these posts, just like on Twitter. Other users can reply and create threads on the platform.
Their new platform already promises some features to users. Meta says it will be easy to bring your following over from Instagram, be compatible with Mastodon, and have strong moderation features that users can benefit from.
It’s hard to say if Meta will have success with this venture. They have some large advantages on their side, but also some disadvangtages.
What is Working For and Against Meta?
For one, Meta has a history of copying other platforms with great success. They incorporated the stories element from Snapchat. They also lifted the short-form video concept from TikTok as Reels on their existing platforms. In addition, Meta definitely has the follower base and resources to replace Twitter.
Meta also has a billion Instagram users globally. A lot of them could potentially be convinced to try out a new platform from them. Especially if they wouldn’t even need to create a new account for it.
While many of Meta’s products have poor reputations, they remain the most widely used social media platforms in the world. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, Facebook had nearly 3 billion monthly active users. As of January 2023, Instagram had about 2 billion monthly active users.
Meta also owns Whatsapp. It is the third most popular social platform worldwide, following Facebook and YouTube. With about 2 billion monthly users, it is the most popular messaging app on the planet.
The only real things working against Meta are the fact that despite having the world’s most used products, many people do not like the company’s practices.
Especially considering Twitter’s public reputation and what people consider its purpose, many more savvy social media users may be unlikely to trust Meta to fill that void.
Meta Has Some Big Problems
While many advertisers pulled out of Twitter due to Elon Musk’s initial anti-censorship stance, this is a stance that fits with the brand identity of Twitter.
Many consider it a place where real news and information can spread in real-time. It does not depend on “more propagandized” corporate news.
Meta, on the other hand, is known for spreading misinformation and abusing user data. Many feel that its draconian, confusing, and unevenly applied censorship rules crush creativity and control which messages can spread.
Often the messages and content their algorithms prioritize or suppress harms people.
People Don’t Trust Meta
For example, all kinds of child exploitation have run rampant on Instagram for years. But, the platform is known for deleting the posts and accounts of adult women who choose to post revealing pictures but are not white or thin instead.
Also, the site’s security algorithms simply don’t work. Lately, many small accounts have been getting hit with semi or even permanent bans for ‘using outside services to buy followers.’ People are getting hacked all over the place.
For the record, accounts that buy fake followers buy thousands or tens of thousands of them. If an account has 200 followers, it’s pretty unlikely the owner bought those followers.
Widespread Algorithmic Failure
Instagram offers no user support whatsoever. They can delete your account whenever they want and you can’t do anything about it.
You can have a normal hobby or personal account and be soft-banned for spam and buying followers while receiving multiple spam messages a day.
Many think of Twitter as the last place online where people can have real conversations and share real news without getting ‘zucced.’ Some would say that this is not exactly accurate, but it is a popular opinion. For that reason, many users would likely not want to lose that perceived freedom to Meta’s oversight.
This likely does not make any Meta product an ideal solution that can replace Twitter.
Bluesky: A New Social Network from Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey
Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey is behind Bluesky, a microblogging platform with an exciting start. According to Time Magazine:
Bluesky, a Twitter-like microblogging platform, was initially launched as a project within Twitter to develop a decentralized service. It spun off as a public benefit company in the fall of 2021—with Dorsey on the board and software engineer Jay Graber, who had been brought in to Twitter to lead the initiative, as CEO—before Musk acquired Twitter in 2022.
Since being released in early 2023, Bluesky has been downloaded more than 300,000 times from the Apple Store and 100,000 times from the Google Play Store. It is an invite-only platform.
Bluesky already has some famous users. This includes politician Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and viral Twitter humorist Dril. What makes it really fascinating though, is how it is supposed to run.
Bluesky provides interoperability and portability across different social media networks. It would function similarly to how email works. For example, if you have a Gmail account, you can still email someone with a Hotmail account, even though the providers are different.
It’s also made its code open-source. This allows the public to see how its algorithms actually work. Bluesky CEO Jay Graber wrote in a March 2023 blog post:
“People have been saying for years that it would be great if users could own their data and their relationships; if we could have transparent algorithms and algorithmic choice; if there could be more accountability and user control over how social platforms are moderated. We’ve now designed and built a system that we think achieves the goals stated above.”
Ex-Twitter Employees Create Spill
Spill is an invite-only ‘real-time conversational platform that puts culture first.’ It was created by Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell and DeVaris Brown. The pair met during orientation on their first day working at Twitter.
Terrell was Twitter’s Global head of Social & Editorial until the end of 2022. He was one of the thousands of employees fired by Elon Musk.
Brown was a product manager lead at Twitter working on machine learning, but left Twitter in 2020. He founded Meroxa. This series A startup makes it easier for companies to build their data pipelines.
At the end of 2022, the pair announced their intention to launch Spill and cultivated a waitlist of over 20,000 people.
As two black men working in tech and social media, they felt that while black creatives often drive trends, they are disrespected and not compensated for their work.
They also felt that under Elon Musk’s leadership, which was strongly anti-censorship at the time, hate speech against black creators was soaring on Twitter.
Their goal is for Spill to be a haven mostly for black and queer creators. Often they drive culture, only to be overlooked or actively mistreated.
While initially, they had plans to launch the app in the winter of 2023, as of June 2023, you can access a beta version of Spill in the Apple App Store.
A little talked about feature of this app is that it seems that creators will be paid through blockchain tech. How will creators outside of the tech space actually respond to this? How will major brands? Do you think this is something that they want or can understand?
Hopefully, in the future, they will release a Google Play store version as well. Most of the world does not use Apple products and it would greatly improve the global inclusivity and accessibility of their offering.
Final Thoughts on the Platforms That Want To Replace Twitter
As you can see, it’s a really fascinating time for the world of social media. Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover has really shaken things up and many are wondering what comes next.
Some think that Twitter will crash entirely, but it’s really impossible to say what will happen for sure. The only thing that is certain is that more competition is always a good thing!
We are seeing new creators in the space try to improve on existing social media using open-source and blockchain technology, which is fascinating!
Also, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to those looking to innovate social media platforms. We will see so much more of this as things progress, regardless of how Twitter performs.
What do you think? Comment below.
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