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Hanging on by a thread

Updated on: 16 July,2023 09:56 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Jaison Lewis |

Social media is in turmoil right now, with several newcomers and some old hands vying for the spot that Twitter once held. Here is a rundown on all the key players

Hanging on by a thread

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Spill is built by two former Twitter employees. It is relatively new, and you have to join a waitlist to get in. The layout is a cross between TikTok and Twitter. There is a lot of focus on community and culture. The platform intends to launch a blockchain to make a currency that can then be used to compensate creators for going viral. It also plans to use AI to modernise that platform which is an interesting approach. However, it is to be seen if they are just another blockchain rug-pull or a legitimate social media platform.


Tumblr has been around since 2007, and it’s not a microblogging site in the strictest sense because the posts can be rather big. Users on the site often enhance their posts with images, videos or GIFs, and a strong sense of community exists. The site was once also notorious for NSFW content, which got banned for a long time and caused many people to leave the platform. The site has backtracked on the ban recently, allowing this content to be published. Tumblr is great at fostering communities, especially amongst the creative crowd.


Mastodon is an open-source text-driven social media. What makes it unique is that you don’t join Mastodon, you instead join a server, called an “instance” in this case. These servers are run either by groups or by individuals. Each instance has its own specific rules and code of conduct. You own your data in Mastodon, and it goes wherever you go. If you don’t like the server you are on, you can pack up your data and take it to another one. Mastodon accepts posts of text up to 500 words with images, videos or an audio file. There has been talk of Threads connecting to ActivityPub, which is the protocol Mastodon uses. The biggest con of Mastodon is that it is a little hard to understand and get around the concept.


Bluesky could also be a potential replacement for Twitter. It was created by former Twitter head Jack Dorsey while still at the company. BlueSky is open-source and decentralised, moving the power back into the hands of the people. Bluesky also uses the ActivityPub protocol, making it more interconnected with other social media platforms. The platform is still in beta, but you can add yourself to the waitlist and wait for an invite code. Considering its open nature, Bluesky may be a worthy successor to Twitter. 


Threads is relatively new but already has over 100 million users, and was even faster than ChatGPT to reach there. However, Meta smartly piggybacked Threads onto Instagram rather than starting from scratch, which gave them an advantage. Posts on threads can be up to 500 characters long, and you can link photos and videos to your posts, making it as versatile as Twitter. The key advantage is that you do not need to register if you have Instagram. Unlike other social media platforms, you don’t even have to go find your friends. If they already follow you on Instagram, you can easily allow them access to your Threads. The app has garnered a fair bit of attention since its launch, but whether it is a true Twitter-killer has to be seen.


Originally developed as a platform for gamers, Discord has evolved into a versatile platform supporting various interests and communities. Discord offers a combination of text, voice, and video communication channels, allowing users to connect with others in real time. It isn’t a global platform like Twitter, where everyone on the network can see your posts, but it is more like a focused chat group with separate spaces for everything you may want to do or discuss within a particular server. Think of it as a modernised version of a forum, built for quicker responses and less structured dialogue. Regardless of whether it will be the next big platform, Discord is well-established enough to be around for a long time.


Of all the options listed, Spoutible is probably the most Twitter-like. It even looks like Twitter: you have a profile page, a timeline, and you can also do one-on-one chats. Posts are called spouts instead of tweets, and their logo is a spouting whale. There is even a section called “making waves”, where you can see what’s trending. They are relatively new, launched in February this year, so everything is not in place, but they are progressing nicely. Spoutible is free and doesn’t have any payment layer, thoughif you like the platform, you can donate some money.

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