Twitter hasn’t been in a great place for months, and that suddenly means that there’s a lot more competition in Twitter-like social media platforms. Mastodon might be the most well-established, but there are many other services vying to be the next place you hang out on the internet, including Post, Substack Notes, T2, the Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky, and soon, Instagram Threads from Meta and Mark Zuckerberg.
That said, the “next Twitter” might not be decided by its app but by its protocol. Mastodon, for example, is built on top of ActivityPub, a W3C-recommended protocol for decentralized social networking, a protocol with support from Tumblr, Flipboard, and maybe even Instagram’s Twitter competitor Threads. Bluesky is building its own protocol, the AT Protocol, which, yes, is focused on decentralized social networking, but also algorithmic choice and portable accounts.
If one of these protocols (or another) really takes off, it could have a foundational impact on the way social networking functions. Instead of having to cross your fingers that one organization or company is a good steward for the app of your choice, many services will theoretically be interoperable with one another. That could open up some really exciting ways for people to talk and post on the internet, which is something we here at The Verge care deeply about. Maybe we’ll all end up gravitating toward yet another centralized platform instead — but I kind of hope we don’t.
Here’s our up-to-date coverage of the competition between Twitter alternatives — some options like Mastodon have been waiting years for this moment.
Dec 1Bluesky is rolling out some new safety tools.
According to a thread from Bluesky’s safety account, it’s introducing “more advanced automated tooling” to flag content to its moderation team before users see it and letting users once again report their own posts for mislabeled content. And sometime “soon,” users will be able to set controls for who can reply to a post.
You still can’t view Bluesky posts unless you have an account (that feature is “realistically” arriving “mid month,” a Bluesky developer said Friday), so if you can’t see the posts yourself, TechCrunch has a good summary of what’s changing.
Nov 20Read Article >
Biden’s first post on Meta’s X (formerly Twitter) competitor harkens back to his 2020 presidential victory speech with references to the country’s divisions and its current “inflection point.” Harris gestured to her travels throughout the US and her having met “over 100” world leaders, and Emhoff wrote about gender equity and “countering hate of all kinds.”
Bluesky, a decentralized social media app alternative to X (formerly Twitter), has announced that it has now crossed 2 million users — doing so just two months after crossing 1 million users. The company is also finally about to add a public web interface, which might help make it a more attractive destination for journalists and other users.Read Article >
One big hurdle for Bluesky to reach a bigger audience is that people can’t view links to posts without being signed in, so the upcoming public web interface should finally help alleviate that problem. The public interface is slated for launch “around the end of this month,” according to the company’s blog post.
Mastodon, the decentralized Twitter / X alternative, is adding lists to its Android app, according to a blog post from CEO and founder Eugen Rochko. Lists are available as part of the most recent Mastodon for Android update.Read Article >
“With the new update, you now have the ability to create custom lists and categorize your follows based on specific topics or interests, while removing them from your home feed,” Rochko writes. “This not only helps in decluttering your home feed but also allows you to engage with certain topics on your own terms, when you are ready.” The update also has a redesigned home tab to make it easier to navigate between your home feed, lists, and hashtags, Rochko says.
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said in a reply on Threads last night that his team is working on an API for Threads, despite concern that it would help publishers push content more than it would creators. TechCrunch spotted his reply in a thread in which Platformer’s Casey Newton told another user the lack of a developer API is why Threads has no TweetDeck equivalent.Read Article >
If the API is robust enough, it could open the platform up to new ideas, expressed through third-party apps and web experiences, about how to actually interact with Threads or view its content. It could also add features that Threads is missing right now, like lists or the ability to follow specific topics.
Meta is going to let you make polls and insert GIFs right from the Threads post composer, the company announced on Thursday. Later in the day, Instagram head Adam Mosseri revealed that the company is testing view counts on Threads posts and pinned posts on profiles and in your replies.Read Article >
The polls and GIFs features are now rolling out, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated by making a post with a GIF and another post with a poll. They’re small additions, but they’re features you have been able to do on X (formerly Twitter) for a very long time.
Oct 24Another Pebble sinks to the bottom.
“We weren’t growing fast enough to convince investors of a breakout,” Cselle wrote. “With many alternatives in the space, the challenge was even greater. We needed more investment and time to fully realize Pebble.” The service topped out at 3,000 daily active users, TechCrunch reports.
Maybe Pebble is a cursed name?
Oct 14Bluesky loves news, apparently.
I still can’t quite figure out Threads’ position on news, but Bluesky is welcoming journalists with open arms. It just published an FAQ specifically about how press should think about using the platform. I respect the move, Bluesky.Bluesky for Journalists
Meta is starting to roll out an edit feature and “Voice Threads” for its Threads platform, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday. They’re two major new features for Meta’s burgeoning X-like social network — and unlike on X (formerly Twitter), you won’t need to pay a subscription fee to be able to edit your posts for five minutes after they’re published.Read Article >
Posts that are edited will have a little icon next to the timestamp showing that they’ve been revised. You aren’t be able to see an edit history — that’s one advantage X still has over Threads — and Meta spokesperson currently doesn’t have plans to add one, Christine Pai tells The Verge.
Just one week after adding the ability to post, Artifact announced on Wednesday that users can now use AI to generate cover art for their content. The company says the feature will add “eye-catching images” that’ll help users better tell their stories.Read Article >
Up until recently, Artifact was an AI-powered news app from Instagram’s co-founders that aggregated news and links around the internet. By adding the ability to directly share and personalize content, it’s becoming even more of a rival to Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).
Oct 4It’s not just everyday users that seem to have cooled on Threads.
KTLA has had a look around Meta’s X/Twitter competitor and points out that several major brands, including the BBC, CBS, and the NFL, have quietly stopped posting on Threads from their main accounts. Those that have continued are seeing limited engagement, which makes sense given how overall user numbers have dipped (Meta, obviously, is reportedly working hard on changing this).
Artifact, the AI-powered news app from Instagram’s co-founders, is adding a major new feature: the ability to post. So far, the app has been an aggregator for news and links from around the internet, but you’re going to be able to add posts directly to the app.Read Article >
Mike Krieger, one of the co-founders of Artifact, announced the new features onstage in a conversation with Casey Newton at the Code Conference on Wednesday. The new feature is a logical next step from Artifact’s recently launched update that lets users share links. This new feature means you won’t just be limited to links; your posts can include things like a title, text, and photos. The posts will also have unique URLs, which should make them easier to share on different apps and services.
Sep 26Meta says Threads account deletion is coming this year.
Soon after Meta’s Instagram-based Twitter competitor launched, some of the millions of people who activated Threads noticed a small issue. Once you create an account on Threads, the only way to delete it is to delete your Instagram account, too.
However, Meta chief privacy officer Michel Protti said during the TechCrunch Disrupt event that Meta will launch individual deletion for Threads accounts by December. Another situation it’s working on handling is fediverse support for situations like “what happens when a Threads post goes to another server and is then deleted by the author.”
Mastodon, the federated microblogging platform, has been updated to version 4.2, which comes with massive improvements to search and the web interface, particularly for logged-out and first-time users.Read Article >
One of Mastodon’s many charming qualities is that, unlike
Sep 18T2 is now Pebble.
Why Pebble? 🪨 A small stone can create waves far beyond its size. Similarly, every Pebble user has the potential to make a huge splash in our community. Here’s to the ripples we all create together!
Pebble can now also use AI to suggest posts or replies. “We want to make sure that you see great content, that you’re posting great content, and that you’re interacting with the community,” CEO Gabor Cselle said in an interview with Wired.
Sep 13Bluesky now has more than one million users.
The Twitter alternative is still in a closed beta. “Our current focus is on preparing to open up and getting the network to a state that can support many more users,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the milestone.
I was a big fan of Bluesky earlier this year, but I’ve recently been doing my microblogging on Threads.Reaching 1 Million Users
Meta will launch the web version of Threads, its competitor to X (formerly known as Twitter) early this week, reports The Wall Street Journal. A web version has been frustratingly missing since the short-form posting service began.Read Article >
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is working on adding the feature along with better search (well, search at all, really — right now, you can only search for usernames on the platform) earlier this month, and that it would be ready in “the next few weeks.”
Aug 13Instagram’s Threads has lost almost 80 percent of its daily active Android users.
A blog post by analytics firm Similarweb says data from the Android Threads app show the social network has fallen to 10.3 million daily active Android users as of August 7th. That’s down from a July 7th peak of 49.3 million.
Earlier this month, both Gizmodo and CNN cited Similarweb data while reporting the Threads slump. Whether Threads could still go the distance remains to be seen, but Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is keeping a positive face for investors.Threads App Usage Down 79% After a Month
The BBC has launched its own “experimental” Mastodon server, marking one of the first major news outlets to establish an instance on the Twitter alternative. You can access the server at social.bbc, which encompasses posts from a handful of BBC accounts, including BBC Radio 4, BBC Taster, BBC Research & Development, and a few more.Read Article >
The BBC says the outlet will try out the server for six months before it decides “whether and how to continue.” While you can’t actually create accounts or posts on the server, you can still leave replies from the instance that you’re using, as well as follow its accounts.
Jul 28Bluesky is replacing the “What’s Hot” feed with a “Discover” feed.
The new feed mixes personalized recommendations for you with things that are trending, according to a blog post from Bluesky. But thanks to Bluesky’s custom feeds feature, if you don’t like it, you can remove it.Custom Feeds
One of Instagram Threads’ most requested features is finally here: the Following tab that lets you see only the people you, er, follow. “Ask and you shall receive,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Threads quoting a user asking for the feature.Read Article >
For those of us who have the Following feed, we can make it appear and disappear by tapping the home icon or the Threads logo at the top of the page. Annoyingly, if you reopen the app after it fully shuts down, it reverts to the “For You” feed, meaning you’ll have to know where to look to bring the Following feed up again — whether that’s a bug or not remains to be seen.
Twitter users (and ex-users) are still watching to see what the next chapter will be in the soap opera called “What Elon Musk Will Do With Twitter Next.” Oops — sorry. It’s no longer Twitter now, is it? It’s some weird new entity called “X.”Read Article >
If you’re becoming bored with the whole thing and you want to continue following social networking without having to deal with Twitter (let’s still call it that for now), where do you go?
Mastodon, the decentralized network viewed as a viable alternative to Twitter, is rife with child sexual abuse material (CSAM), according to a new study from Stanford’s Internet Observatory (via The Washington Post). In just two days, researchers found 112 instances of known CSAM across 325,000 posts on the platform — with the first instance showing up after just five minutes of searching.Read Article >
To conduct its research, the Internet Observatory scanned the 25 most popular Mastodon instances for CSAM. Researchers also employed Google’s SafeSearch API to identify explicit images, along with PhotoDNA, a tool that helps find flagged CSAM. During its search, the team found 554 pieces of content that matched hashtags or keywords often used by child sexual abuse groups online, all of which were identified as explicit in the “highest confidence” by Google SafeSearch.
Jul 24Read Article >
Text posts appear similar to Instagram Stories visually: users can add a background color, edit how text appears, and add music and stickers to the post. Posts have a 1,000-character limit (yes, I tested it to find out). Other users can also engage with the post similar to how they interact with video — by stitching, dueting, and commenting.