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Bring on the Twitter Killers!

The whole problem with social media (apart from being a hazard to some people’s sanity) is simple and ancient: Too much power in too few hands. And the threat to sanity could be managed if people cared to. There should not be five corporations controlling 90% of social media. There should be fifty. No, scratch that. Five hundred. My older readers might remember the BBS era. Those are the kinds of numbers I’d like to see.

Well, the solution may be in sight. Every time I turn around, someone is pushing a new, um, “Twitter-killer.” There are lots, most of them pretty new, some of them still requiring invites to join. Meta’s Instagram subsidiary has created something called Threads, which is still invite only and (obviously) I have not seen. (I don’t even think their server is publicly visible.)

Another one being pushed by the mainstream media is Spill, which is still invite-only, and targeted at Black folks. (I won’t say “African-Americans” because as best I know Spill’s reach will be global.) There’s Amino, for teens. I’m 71, but again, Yay!

Lifewire has a list. Have any of you every heard of Plurk? I haven’t. It has “an adorable interface.” Yay wow! (When’s the last time you saw the word “adorable” expressed without irony?) Aside from Mastodon and Tumblr, I’ve heard of none of them. But yeah, bring ‘em on.

The best list of Twitter alternatives I’ve seen here comes (predictably) from Vice. It’s a good article; at least skim it. New to me were Cohost, Post, Substack Notes, Spoutible, CounterSocial, and WT.Social. Other lists are out there, and many other social media sites are new (or new-ish) that I have heard of, like Bluesky, which is touted as a “decentralized Twitter.” Another that’s been around for some time is Discord. A lot of my friends are on LinkedIn, and although I’ve had a login for years, I don’t check it much.

There’s, which competes (as best I can tell) with Substack, though leaning toward shorter posts. Ello dates back to 2014 and was created by and still caters to artists and designers.

Of course, there are Gab and Minds, which offered less censorship of conservative users and positions. Parler was once in that space too, but I think they’re now defunct, though there is some talk about a relaunch.

My point? The more social networks there are, the less power a handful of social networks will have. Network effects are real, of course, and so is tribalism. I infer from the descriptions of some of these sites that they are silos for a particular ideology. That’s all to the good; I don’t like ideology. Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter thinned out Twitter’s ideological machinery radically. That’s one reason I see no reason to leave Twitter. Musk is reinventing space technology. I like space technology. He’s ballsy, and seems to be deliberately annoying certain categories of users who liked Twitter’s traditional censorship via cowardly tricks like shadowbanning.

I see lots of people saying they’re leaving Twitter. I wonder how many actually are. I’m all for Twitter refugees finding a comfy home somewhere else. The sort of people who will flee a network because it doesn’t censor enough are people I’d just as soon not hang out with.

Of course, most of these networks will probably croak after a couple of years. But some may grow, and siphon off some of Twitter’s bellyachers. (I have some hopes for Bluesky and Threads.)

Will the new social networks really kill Twitter? Don’t be absurd. Most of us are happy with Musk’s changes. I’m even considering getting a verified account, just for the hell of it. I used to pay for Compuserve and LiveJournal, after all. I’m not averse to paying for what I use, if it’s useful enough.

Twitter, so far, has been more than useful enough.


  1. Orvan Taurus says:

    I’ve had a Plurk account for several years. I vary rarely check on it anymore. The ‘adorable’ UI is, to me, kind of annoying. I suppose it’s more for the folks who ‘think’ in graphical computing than text, even though it is mainly text.

  2. Bob Wilson says:

    Good article on how hard it is to start social app. It reminds us of the Google+ app that was supposed to be a Facebook killer. as you know, despite google’s billions of users, the app cratered and was abandoned in 2018.

    Speaking of Google, they have now given themselves permission to harvest comments to websites. Any idea how we might impact sites like yours?

    1. Well, they’ve always had the power to crawl a Website like mine to build an index, comments and all, and I have no particular problem with that. As for AI, we still don’t know what will be done with it nor how. My tests of AI language models basically showed that what they do best is make shit up. (I’ve written those up here if you haven’t seen them yet.) I asked ChatGPT if there was a sequel to Jeff Duntemann’s The Cunning Blood. Nearly everything in the reply was dead wrong. The image generators weren’t a great deal better; they don’t know how many fingers humans have, like that’s some kind of a secret.

      I’m still skeptical about the whole AI business. It certainly isn’t unfolding as I (the science fiction writer) would have forseen.

  3. Bob Wilson says:

    From my reading about hallucination by AI chat bots, I have the same impression as you. But here is an article about a CEO of an Indian start up that disagrees.

    I will say nothing about the quality of support outsourced to India. 😁

    “This CEO replaced 90% of support staff with an AI chatbot.


    The chief executive of an Indian startup laid off 90% of his support staff after the firm built a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence that he says can handle customer queries much faster than his employees.

    Summit Shah, the founder and CEO of Dukaan, a Bangalore-based e-commerce company, said on Twitter Monday that the chatbot — built by one of the firm’s data scientists in two days — could respond to initial customer queries instantly, whereas his staff’s first responses were sent after an average of 1 minute and 44 seconds.

    The average time taken to resolve a customer’s issue also dropped by almost 98% when they interacted with the chatbot, he tweeted.

    Shah said the job cuts were “tough” but “necessary.”

  4. Some followup:

    Here’s another Twitter competitor that’s a very obvious clone: I boggle to think that I’ve had a login there almost since it was released–and then forgot about it. Overall it’s not a bad item, and it leans slightly conservative. It even has a TikTok workalike for videos.

    Yesterday I decided to get a verified Twitter account. They say they’re working on it, but no blue check just yet. I paid for a full year upfront and saved $12. And hey, you can drop 84 bucks just going out to dinner with family. My guess is they’re getting a lot of verified account applications and are running behind. We’ll see.

    1. Woke up to my brand new bluecheck this morning. Will have to carve out some time to try the new features.

  5. Bob Wilson says:

    A negative review of threads from the left. The writer says Twitter is overrun by Nazis and trolls but Threads is too boring. Seems like you can’t please anyone. LOL

    1. Yup. Saw that article. What surprised me is that Threads doesn’t support hashtags, which makes me wonder how it can be used for reading news–or researching anything else, for that matter. My guess is that Threads will have hundreds of millions of users but will go almost completely unused after a few months. Threads will thus become the world’s biggest echo chamber, heh.

      My greatest hope is that it will draw all the censorious people away from Twitter so we can finally discuss Certain Topics without getting screamed at or banned.

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