Even Non-Tech Folks Are Exploring If It’s Time To Abandon Twitter

from the sinking-ship dept

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been spending much more time using Mastodon, and shifting much of what I used to use Twitter for to that other platform. It’s not an exact replacement, nor is it meant to be, but it’s been growing incredibly rapidly as Twitter seemingly crumbles under Elon Musk. Lots of people keep insisting to me that Mastodon can’t succeed — and it’s entirely possible that it won’t. I have no crystal ball. And some people insist that it will only attract “tech” folks who are able to go through the (marginally) more complicated steps to signing up for Mastodon. Indeed, some people (mostly on Twitter, naturally) seem positively angry at me for suggesting that it’s even possible that Mastodon could reach critical mass.

For me, at least, it has reached critical mass. Many of the people I regularly talk to on Twitter have shifted over, and I found the learning curve for Mastodon to be incredibly short and not very steep at all.

But, the question still remains if non-tech people will really move over. Some have, including some celebrities who had large Twitter followings like Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, and George Takei.

And while most of what I see on Twitter these days are people talking about what a shit job Elon Musk seems to be doing running (and I use that term loosely) the place, the one area I haven’t seen that discussion reach (for the most part) is sports Twitter, where people are happily talking about sports.

So I was a bit surprised to see at least some in that world are also considering if it’s time to abandon Musk’s sinking ship. The NY Post sports page, of all places, recently had an article saying that sports media should rethink its relationship with Elon Musk’s Twitter.

While a large part of the argument is that sports journalists revealing breaking news on Twitter takes traffic away from the news media organizations who actually pay their salaries, that… seems misguided. The reason sports media break stories on Twitter is because it acts as a time stamping service to show who broke the news first, in an industry where who got it first kinda matters (even if for dumb reasons). And those reporters still drive traffic back to their employers with their full stories.

But I find it quite noteworthy that even if we’re not seeing sportswriters moving to Mastodon or other alternative social media platforms yet, just the fact that they’re already kicking off a discussion about how maybe it’s time to decrease their reliance on Twitter, really makes it clear how widely the concern is about the direction Elon has taken the site.

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Comments on “Even Non-Tech Folks Are Exploring If It’s Time To Abandon Twitter”

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47 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

I assume, succeed at being an instant mass market replacement for non-tech folk.

There seems to be a learning curve and paradigm shift that outs some off, and congestion caused by all the new people trying it out. But, it’s not complicated enough to cause long term problems, assuming people choose that instead of other options.

Funny, I was assured by right-wingers that there were no choices if they were “deplatformed” from FB and Twitter. I wonder if not being banned from everywhere for being a bigoted asshole opens up your choices…

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There seems to be a learning curve and paradigm shift that outs some off

One of the biggest paradigm shifts comes from the decentralized nature of the Fediverse: You can explore individual accounts on a different instance than yours, but you can’t see the local timeline of that different instance. That doesn’t help the “discoverability is hell” issue, especially when someone is trying to find a good instance to join.

But it’s a small price to pay for having a social media service that doesn’t feel like Twitter⁠—in a number of ways.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It took me a few minutes to sign up, and I was definitely overthinking options for what client and server I should use relating to the overall Fediverse idea, but it seemed fairly straightforward overall. I agree with the main issue potentially being the local feed vs. the global one everyone’s used to, but I can imagine that with regular use following reliable people you’re familiar with elsewhere these things might become easier to keep up with. But, I’m the sort of Twitter user who doesn’t care in the slightest about what’s “trending” and mostly follow specific individuals and organisations I’m interested in, so this would be the most logical move for me IMO.

I’d think it’s enough of a learning bump for people with low tech skills to think twice and go to another option where they only have to provide a login, but that can be an advantage.

Christenson says:

Re: Sucess for Mastodon..

I’d define success as being the go-to source for timely and largely public information, just like the New York Times once was.

Twitter before Elon was largely succeeding at that, problems notwithstanding. Right now, nobody trusts that twitter will be there tomorrow or next year or keep any private data private.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Maybe it’s because I grew up in the UK and saw the stark difference between restricted/moderated news sources (radio/TV) and unrestricted (newspapers) but I have an issue with anyone being a “go-to source” for news. Especially when it’s not doing its own journalism. I’ve seen far too many people vote against their own interests because they read the Daily Mail (fascists) or The Sun (gained marketshare by exploiting teen girls and is still shunned in Liverpool for lies) to think that a single news outlet is useful for anything other than its owners.

Twitter, as with all social media, lives on “engagement”, and tabloid tactics, false “both sides” narratives and misleading headlines drive that more than honest reporting. So, don’t use it to tell you what’s really happening. Familiarise yourself with the biases and problems each journalistic source has, follow them on various platforms if you wish, but don’t let an algorithm driven by clicks tell you what’s relevant.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: Re: Go-to sources...

Twitter really supported a cacophony and I ended up following just a few choice sources — noting that all sources and people reading have their biases.

I explained to my mom tonight what was happening to Twitter in a general way, and got from her that any medium driven by engagement is going to be a turn-off for her…she doesn’t want to get hooked on doomscrolling. This makes me think some kind of 15-minute or 30-minute format daily and/or weekly news should have a market if it can find its audience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

If it’s one of many sources, yes.

A single “authoritative” source is prone to either being manipulated or infiltrated by “rogue agents” to twist it to their needs.

And it gets worse when it becomes the sole “authority” of news in a region. It will become a propaganda tool.

I speak from hard experience seeing Singapore die and become China’s bitch. And Rupert Murdoch WANTS our country’s media regime.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

A rich moron bought a thing he didn’t understand for a price that makes him an even bigger moron. He has since done everything possible to wreck that thing he bought in record time. That includes his decision to let a shitload of the staff running that thing he bought leave him and a relative handful of employees left to run the thing he barely understands.

And you think that isn’t going to be a huge news story for days, if not weeks?

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re right. When a person dislikes a narcissistic sociopath for well documented reasons, they might tend to dislike all such people.

The problem is with the people who think that “thinking that people with toxic ideas and a track record of harming humanity in the pursuit of profit” is somehow deranged. But, hey, at least you’ve been voluntarily thinning your respective herd in recent years. Once we get over the hurdles of “deserted land has more powerful votes than the places most people live” and “inherited wealth is seen as a virtue”, more sanity will prevail.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: Mastodon...

Mastodon is already succeeding beyond its wildest dreams, fueled by the twitter meltdown. I don’t think it’s niches are going to disappear anytime soon.

As to being “stricter than twitter”, well, very few people, mostly the trolls we didn’t want to hear from, are really going to care about that, and many might find the rules better enforced to their benefit because mastodon instances are much smaller than twitter.

Finally, I think you underestimate the ability of the Fediverse to adapt. Search will come for appropriate public posts.

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Thad (profile) says:

Even Non-Tech Folks Are Exploring If It’s Time To Abandon Twitter

Lots of people keep insisting to me that Mastodon can’t succeed — and it’s entirely possible that it won’t. I have no crystal ball. And some people insist that it will only attract “tech” folks who are able to go through the (marginally) more complicated steps to signing up for Mastodon. Indeed, some people (mostly on Twitter, naturally) seem positively angry at me for suggesting that it’s even possible that Mastodon could reach critical mass.

It kinda seems like you’re using “Abandon Twitter” and “Switch to Mastodon” as if they’re equivalent.

Christenson says:

Re: One response, courtesy of twitter/@Marzgurl

Right now, everybody is keeping multiple options open, no longer trusting that Twitter will be here next year. Here’s one twitter person’s response to that:

https://linktr.ee/Marz Gurl

P.S. Kindly look but don’t touch — my point is she’s got a table of options there at linktree, not whether you have or lack any interest in anime or subtitles.

Anonymous Coward says:

It seems to me the platforms being considered are Tumblr, Mastodon, Itaku, Cohost, and Instagram. Discord as well, but it’s a bit different from the sort of social media experience the others provide. Mastodon seems preferred for the 35+ crowd, but younger users seem to be considering Cohost and Tumblr instead. Further, cosplayers, models, or fashion Twitter seems to be settling in to Insta, while artist twitter seems to be migrating to Itaku (and, to a lesser extent, Newgrounds).

I wonder if a big unified “town square” like Twitter will remain soon, or if we’re going to see offshoots based on general interest and age/generation group. I also wonder how Japanese twitter users will react if Twitter crashes – afaik, it’s the primary social media that Japanese people use, to the point many Japanese websites use a Twitter account as the only form of sign-up. If it goes, they’re kind of up a creek without a paddle.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

I wonder if a big unified “town square” like Twitter will remain soon

My guess: Something will eventually come along after Twitter collapses (or at least collapses enough that it may as well be dead) to replace it as a “primary” social media outlet for a great many people. Mastodon won’t be it for numerous reasons, and a site meant to be an artdump (e.g., Itaku) won’t be it either. It’ll have to be a centralized service like Twitter with functionality like Twitter, that much I know.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

“I wonder if a big unified “town square” like Twitter will remain soon”

Twitter has never been the largest social media site in terms of regular users, it just gets amplified because it’s been used by other news media as a source for political and entertainment news, and because it used to be the home of the world’s largest orange shitposter.

Other sites have always been available, most people who hadn’t been banned for hate speech used more than one on a regular basis, and Twitter dying means that people will just go elsewhere with minor adjustments. The question is just whether they all choose the same new venue or not. From my feed, it seems there’s a split between tech savvy users going to Mastadon, and others choosing to go back to another familiar venue such as Tumblr, FB or Instagram.

mick says:

Please don't use it!

Twitter was great until the masses came and it became an outrage factory. Mastadon is already great. The last thing we need are the trolls coming along and ruining yet another communication medium (like the Techdirt comments, for example).

I’m sad that Takei is there, although I respect the guy. Mastadon doesn’t need comedians and actors or anyone else with thousands of followers. Can’t we just have a place for intelligent communication from educated, non-famous people who have something to say, pretty please?

Hell, let’s get rid of the follower count altogether (after, say, 100). That alone would make Mastadon more future-proof than the average social media outlet.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Can’t we just have a place for intelligent communication from educated, non-famous people who have something to say, pretty please?

That’s what blogs are for. Social media is for shitposting at all hours of the day⁠—even (and especially) if you’re educated and(/or) non-famous. I mean, @dril didn’t get popular by having philosophical debates with Harvard graduates.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Social media is for shitposting at all hours of the day⁠”

Social media is for whatever you want to make of it. I’ve tended to use FB for keeping in touch with IRL friends and family and local events, Twitter for following brands, filmmakers musicians and other artists I’m interested in keeping up with, and a combination of Reddit/Fark/whatever for politics and links elsewhere. I have my feeds curated well enough so that if I hear about a random toxic event on FB or Twitter, I’ve hearing about it on the news aggregators and not my feeds on those sites.

Everyone’s different, but social media is ultimately a tool, and your experience is based in how you use it.

McGyver (profile) says:

The Drama Continues…

Well, now that Space Karen has reinstated fellow crybaby genius, Dumple Thinskin, I’m interested to see whether this adds gasoline or hydrazine to the dumpster fire he’s been carefully stoking since he walked in with that bathroom sink a few weeks back… Either way, the place is burning to ground… now it’s just a question of how spectacularly or sadly it ends.

Twitter had an interesting run, but the moment the Mango Moron discovered it, it’s days were numbered… If his presence hadn’t become such a concentrated Nexus point of hatred and disinformation, and Twitter had actually enforced its own rules when they should have, the platform probably could have gone on and remained profitable for much longer… but greed, won out in just a few years it went from being a bit swampy to full cesspool.

Dumpo and his flabby fascist conservative cronies constantly howling about how not being allowed their racist rants and propaganda conspiracies was violation of the freeze peach rights Rambo Jesus promised them in the constitution was what drew stupid little Muskrat into this.

And eventually shareholders handed it over over thinking Time Square Elmo with a flamethrower was to going to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Instead, he did exactly what a sweaty drug addict wearing a mascot costume and holding a flamethrower looked like he was going to do all along.
Not only did he set himself on fire and their investments, for many he also set their investments in Tesla alight as well.

There’s an important lesson to be ignored here, the moral of which is: “greedy stupid people ruin everything for everyone”… “but not for you, next time will be different because THIS new guy says he’s smart and he can make us rich”.

Honestly the most important lesson is to not learn anything at all from anything and just keep punching buttons, especially the red ones with the clear plastic covers, because if someone put a cover over it, it must do something fun!

I’m glad I never was into Twitter… it was fun to read sometimes and it’s a shame for all those people who used it for useful or important things… or even just for stupid funny commentary that wasn’t drooling vicious spiteful bullshit.

But this is what happens when you give a monkey a hand grenade and expect results different than what’s obviously going to occur.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

And eventually shareholders handed it over over thinking Time Square Elmo with a flamethrower was to going to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Well, a Muskrat took over the ship having bought their shares, and as Twitter was heading for trouble in any case, they got the best deal possible, sell at the peak.

nasch (profile) says:

Re:

If [Trump’s] presence hadn’t become such a concentrated Nexus point of hatred and disinformation, and Twitter had actually enforced its own rules when they should have, the platform probably could have gone on and remained profitable for much longer…

By all accounts I’ve seen, Twitter was doing fine and was in little or no danger of collapse before Musk got involved, and his involvement was by no means inevitable.

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