There’s nowhere to go.
That’s the little secret Elon Musk is banking on. To save Twitter, Musk needs to monetize it in new ways and generally far better than Jack Dorsey ever did. The foundation of that monetization is real users, not bots.
One of the main themes of the Musk era so far is people threatening to leave. Yes, if it reminds you of people threatening to leave the United States in 2016 when Donald J. Trump became president, you have a good memory.
Of course, practically no one left the U.S. because of Trump — certainly not enough to be even statistically relevant. And, if my experience over the past couple of weeks is a decent example, far fewer people will leave Twitter than are claiming on the platform they will.
I tried out several but certainly not all of the main platforms where people in my Twitterverse say they’re going. I don’t think Musk has a ton to worry about here.
Aside from the mounting evidence that Telegram is simply under Russian control, thinking that Telegram can replace Twitter ignores what the platform was built for. Telegram is a type of quasi-secret messaging application, often used by reporters and others looking for confidential messaging.
To sign up for Telegram, you need to use what at least appears to be a real phone number and, again, it’s best used for one-to-one communication.
In theory, Telegram could be used as a one-to-many platform for you to put out information to be consumed by others. But unless Telegram dramatically changes how it works, it’s never going to be a community. And, even if it were, I’d suggest you consider staying away from it for security reasons.
I tried playing with Mastodon over the past two weeks, and it’s an absolute mess. Like Discord, which I’ll talk about a little bit later, Mastodon is essentially a series of servers that forms an open-source, decentralized social media platform.
Anyone can use Mastodon code to create a server for free. So you could go to Mastodon, set up your own community, and invite others. It would be like taking some of your followers from Twitter and going somewhere else where if you all signed up, you could interact with each other.
But this negates what Twitter is, which is a massive, broad and deep community. Mastodon is like having one ridiculously small slice of that Twitter pie for you to interact with other people — here’s the key — if they know exactly where you stored that slice of pie.
Admittedly, I could be missing something, but my time on Mastodon was just an exercise in futility and frustration. I saw some people I know on Twitter linking to some social server on Mastodon, but I couldn’t find what they seemed to be linking to, and I have pretty decent technology competencies, especially when it comes to things like social media. So, in other words, if I’m missing what they’re trying to show, you’re probably also going to miss it.
Time did an excellent feature on Mastodon’s founder that answered some questions for me but also created many others. As far as regulating content goes, Mastodon is essentially a community of unrelated servers, which means that you could establish your own server and have very strict rules for speech. You could also establish your own server and have a rule that says any kind of speech goes. The more powerful people on Mastodon are going to be the ones who migrate over from Twitter and succeed in bringing a crowd of followers with them.
Mastodon’s growth has really taken off since Musk acquired Twitter, with over 1 million new members on the platform. Yet, for me, this tweet perfectly sums up Mastodon and what is bound to be a period of growing pains:
Mastodon is so far v good if you wanna see lots of posts about being new to Mastodon
— Elamin Abdelmahmoud (@elamin88) November 6, 2022
Substack is really great, and I think it’s going to be one of the big publishing platforms of the future. But Substack as a way to set up a Twitter-like community makes no sense to me at all.
I’ve seen people say they’re going to be setting up on Substack, and more power to them, but, again, I see this as a vehicle for one-to-many communication.
Lots of people I know have Substack newsletters, and some of those newsletters even pay the bills. But that’s very different from the kind of community that Twitter purports to be, where people can interact with each other.
Again, good luck finding a community here.
Discord is an instant messaging social platform, again based on the notion of servers. Users have the ability to communicate with voice calls, video calls, text messaging, media and files in private chats.
If you know the server you’re looking for on Discord, it’s like you’re on a mini-Twitter with the ability to direct message other Discord users and engage in dialogue on the servers you choose. But just like Mastodon, I’ve been unable to find the few people I’ve known on Twitter who said they were going to Discord.
One last word of counsel if you really do decide to spend social media time elsewhere: No matter where you go, if you decide to leave Twitter or just give some other platform a try, don’t assume it’s going to provide you the same safeguards Twitter at least has in the past.
“If you’re migrating your social presence to either a new platform or one that is rapidly scaling because of people saying they’re going to leave Twitter, be very careful to check whether the new platform has terms of service in place to protect you and what you say,” attorney Daniel M. Santarsiero argues.
Keep this advice in mind in weighing your own decision as to whether to stay with a more established social platform such as Twitter or explore new territory.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.