Meta’s Threads app has been downloaded over 100 million times in just five days, making it the most serious threat to Twitter since Elon Musk bought the company in October.
Twitter’s reaction to the launch, which included threatening legal action, suggests that the company is feeling the heat. However, there are more than a dozen other platforms vying for Twitter’s throne. Here are five of the most notable rivals – excluding Threads.
In 2019, Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey created a team to work on Bluesky, a decentralized social media platform. The platform’s code is open-source, which means that anyone can modify it.
Launched in February 2023, Bluesky is designed to give users more control over their data and the ability to move their profiles between different networks.
Twitter users who enjoy the site’s basic features such as posting, replying, and retweeting will find Bluesky to be a familiar and easy-to-use platform, according to people that have tested the Dorsey-backed social media network.
Bluesky also offers the added benefit of data portability, allowing users easily move their data from Twitter to Bluesky. Last week, Bluesky reached a significant milestone, hitting more than one million downloads, according to app store intelligence provider data.ai.
It is a far cry from the numbers Threads is racking up, and even far less than Twitter itself, which reportedly added another 72 million new users in the same time it took Bluesky to reach 1 million. On the other hand, Bluesky is currently invite-only, suggesting the strategy goes beyond numbers alone.
Also, the site lacks some of the features that users have come to expect from Twitter, such as direct messages and the ability to make lists. Bluesky is not compatible with ActivityPub, the most popular standard in the so-called Fediverse, a network of interconnected servers that allows users to communicate with each other across different platforms.
Mastodon is a free and open-source microblogging platform founded by German software engineer Eugen Rochko in March 2016. It is a member of the Fediverse, meaning users can follow or be followed by people on other Mastodon servers.
Mastodon is a crowd-funded and ad-free social media network – no single entity controls the platform. Users have more control over their data and content moderation is decentralized. Each Mastodon server can set its own rules and policies.
The platform is rather complex and not-so-friendly for the everyday user. The design is nothing like Twitter. When you sign up for Mastodon, you join a server, also known as an instance, which is similar to a forum and is based on a shared interest. Posts are referred to as “toots”.
Elon Musk seems worried about Mastodon. In December, he banned links to Mastodon on Twitter and suspended users who posted their Mastodon handles, including Mastodon’s official account. After pressure from Twitter users, he reversed the decision days later.
The number of active monthly users on Mastodon swelled several-fold to 2.6 million after Musk bought Twitter, but it dropped to just 1.2 million in April. That’s quite some distance from the necessary levels of hype that could unseat a social media titan like Twitter.
Truth Social is a right-wing social media network founded by former U.S. President Donald Trump after he was banned from Twitter and Facebook in 2021. Trump, a prolific tweeter in his time, now posts exclusively on his own platform, without limits.
Truth Social is a clone of Twitter. Posts are called “truths,” and reposts “re-truths.” Until late 2022. Google blocked downloads of the Truth Social app from its digital store for what it called “violent content.”
Launched in February 2022, the platform boasts a user base of around two million, but it is also a playground for racists, bigots and the like, according to people who have used Truth Social.
Hive describes itself as a “social platform focusing on the simplicity of social media”. The Twitter alternative promises users that they can express themselves “without the pressure of traditional social media apps.” In Hive lingo, users are known as “Besties”.
Romanian developer Raluca Pop founded Hive Social, which was launched in October 2019. The platform saw a surge in popularity after Elon Musk completed the purchase of Twitter, with users surpassing one million.
On Hive Social, posts are displayed in chronological order, rather than using an algorithm to determine what you see. This is a welcome change for users who are tired of the “For You” tab on Twitter, which can be biased, showing users posts they might not interested in.
Hive also combines elements of Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, according to reports, making it a versatile platform for sharing text, images, and videos. Additionally, Hive has reportedly taken a strong stance against racism and has a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech.
The platform had to shut down in December for security reasons and its business model is also unclear. Hive charges users to feature extra music tracks on their profiles, a feature some people may find annoying or outdated.
Spill – the new Black Twitter
Created by two former Twitter employees, Alphonzo Terrell and DeVaris Brown, Spill is a black-owned new social media platform targeting people of color. The founders described Spill as a space for diverse communities and “culture drivers.”
“Our thesis was if we could build a platform from the ground up that caters to these groups, these culture drivers, and then solve the core problems that they’re facing…that would make for a better experience for everyone,” Terrell told AfroTech.
— SPILL (@SpillMob) July 11, 2023
Launched in June 2023, Spill reported an increase in users after the recent changes made to Twitter, including the imposition of reading limits. Some internet users have dubbed Spill the “new Black Twitter.”
Due to the high volume of interest in the app, new signups have been temporarily halted. However, a beta version is currently being tested and is only available to those who have received an invitation code from an existing user.