Note: I wrote the following post on November 4, 2022, the day I deleted my Twitter account, but decided not to publish it. It seemed unnecessary because there was already a huge wave of migration off Twitter. Unfortunately, lots of people I know have stayed on, too, and seem in denial about what Twitter now is. Charlie Warzel’s piece, Twitter Is a Far-Right Social Network, made me reread this draft and realize it’s only become truer in the past half year. I still prefer Mastodon and compatible fediverse services, but Bluesky, despite its issues, is now another less-bad alternative.
I encourage everyone to rip off the bandaid and leave Twitter sooner than later. It’s Truth Social 2.0 now.
Not only does Elon Musk have an obvious affinity for the far right, but he’s indebted to a Saudi prince for his purchase. Plus, with half the company laid off, and most executives fired immediately, Twitter won’t have the institutional memory or capacity to keep itself well moderated and running smoothly, even if the new owners wanted that.
Truth Social 2.0 doesn’t deserve you lending it legitimacy with your presence. It’s fine if Mastodon is too nerdy and weird for you, but then give Facebook a fresh look—start Facebook groups. As much as you hate Facebook the company, they are now more trustworthy than Twitter. That’s a fact. Maybe it’s even worth dusting off Nextdoor, whose thinly-veiled NIMBY racism is about to look like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood compared to what Musk will allow on Twitter.
Tumblr is still around, and you can write Substacks, or put your thoughts on Medium. You can start a blog on WordPress, or Blogger.com, and you can use an RSS reader like Feedly or The Old Reader to keep up with other people’s blogs and Substacks (that’s right, Substack supports RSS, for now at least until they make the business decision to shut it off).
Instagram. You can share political events, news and happenings on Stories. Even if it’s annoying with how aggressive the volume of ads has gotten, and how badly it wants you to use its TikTok clone. It’s still a better option than the Musk phase of Twitter. It’s a social network whose owners, while they aren’t exactly benevolent, aren’t going to deliberately sow far-right misinformation.
Some of the activist communities I organize with use Slack. I actually think it’s kind of terrible, because none of us can afford to pay for it, so the messages all disappear after 90 days. Still better than Twitter.
Your group DMs can move to Signal.
When I said I was deleting my Twitter account, someone suggested I delete my tweets but keep an inactive account, so as to hold onto my username, @graue. That way I could be sure that Musk wouldn’t release the handle and allow someone else to tweet as @graue.
And I responded: I never tried to claim @graue on Truth Social; why would I want it on Elon’s Twitter?
The most frustrating thing I’m seeing is people making fun of Musk and the devolution of Twitter—on Twitter. I even saw a detailed thread from a legal scholar, explaining how Musk will get penalized for doing layoffs without proper notice—on Twitter. Why would you write such interesting content and then solely publish it in the place he controls? Why would you mock him while at the same time giving him strong engagement numbers he can take to advertisers to show them his leadership is going great? That’s as impotent a form of protest as Nancy Pelosi responding to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by reciting a poem.
None of the apps and websites I listed above perfectly replace Twitter. They all have their problems. And I admit, I included Nextdoor and Facebook more to make a point than to actually recommend them. The point is this: Even apps that you’ve been avoiding because they suck, suck less than Twitter now. Twitter as a place worth being is already gone.
I’ve made it clear I like Mastodon. I’m optimistic for it and community-controlled social media in general. I don’t think it’s too early to succeed with certain niche communities, like activists; its rapid growth suggests it has its appeal for some. But I admit Mastodon is not yet ready to become a mass platform with hundreds of millions of people. It’s not for everyone. And if Mastodon is not for you, I’m not here to give you the hard sell.
But please: leave Twitter. Now. Don’t be in denial about what it already is: a disinformation platform and a far-right–enabling cesspool. Don’t wait around for that vision to be fully realized. No savior is coming to take Twitter back to the way it used to be. There is no deus ex machina. Musk’s purchase will not be annulled. The laid-off workers who knew how to keep the thing humming will not be re-hired. It stings to lose a place where we made friends, built community, learned a lot, and (sometimes enjoyably) wasted lots of time. It hurts. But the sooner you accept it’s over and move on, the better.