Twitter Alternatives: Truth Social, Mastodon are emerging apps for those who don’t want to use the platform anymore
Interest in alternative social media platforms such as former US President Donald Trump’s Truth Social and the open-source Mastodon has soared recently following Elon Musk’s successful bid on Twitter.
And surprisingly, Twitter also benefits.
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Data from two app tracking companies showed that many social media apps quickly climbed the charts.
Mastodon, which hosts several social communities that can create their own rules and guidelines, jumped 459 places in the Apple App Store ranking to number 31 in the free app chart.
Struggling since its February launch, Truth Social climbed 170 positions in the Apple App Store rankings to become the No. 1 free app.
Mastodon, which hosts several social communities that can create their own rules and guidelines, jumped 459 places in the Apple App Store ranking to number 31 in the free app chart. Credit: Mastodon
Twitter this week said it saw some account closures, with some mainstream accounts losing thousands of followers, while conservative accounts have enjoyed an influx.
But Twitter has seen its rise, from the number 35 spot in the App Store to the number 2 spot, according to Sensor Tower, an app tracking company.
While the App Store’s ranking isn’t based entirely on download count, it also considers how often an app is used — Twitter saw the most installs each day for the past month on Tuesday, a day after the Twitter announcement. The Board announced it would accept Musk’s purchase offer, according to Sensor Tower data.
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The population shifts in the social media digital landscape illustrate the increasingly polarized and politicized tech ecosystem, where splinter apps have quickly gained and lost popularity based on their perceived political affiliation or lack thereof.
Experts say a more fractured digital landscape could be our new reality.
“The idea that you can create one algorithm and one space that works for people in hundreds of different countries and thousands of different cultures is untenable at first glance,” said Eli Pariser, a digital media pioneer and critic who coined the term “filter bubble.” †
“This moment with Elon coming in pushes that a little bit to a breaking point.”
Some of Truth Social’s growth can be attributed to the app’s CEO, Devin Nunes, who announced that waiting lists to access the app would finally be cleared after its rocky February rollout.
The app also received a wave of attention after Trump said he would no longer participate in Twitter, even if Musk were given a chance, and would instead be on Truth Social, where he currently has an inactive account.
Truth Social, a social media network promoted in part by former US President Donald Trump, as seen on the screen. Credit: John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx/AP
Gettr, a Twitter alternative led by former Trump adviser Jason Miller, has also enjoyed a bump, climbing 71 places in the Apple App Store in the past week.
Miller said in a text message that the number of applications was up 70 percent on Wednesday.
In a post explaining his thoughts on the rise, Miller said, “many have no desire to return to Twitter, and when they see the left-wing collapsing over Musk, they want to explore healthier options.”
The idea of leaving Twitter in protest against Musk has become a topic of conversation on the platform and a reality for some who disagree with Musk’s outspoken aversion to proactive platform moderation of hate speech and misinformation that doesn’t violate the law.
Mastodon, an apolitical decentralized platform, could now be attractive because no centralized ethos is applied to speech, and instead, individual communities create their norms, Pariser said.
“A move to smaller spaces where more people are really heard and where people can also have more control over what the speech standards are could be beneficial in some ways,” he said.
A communication studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Natalie Stroud said the turmoil Musk has sparked on Twitter is already rippling across the social media industry.
“I think there is a growing movement for new social media options and a recognition that different platforms meet different needs,” she said.
“If the Twitter experience changes drastically, it will open the door for people to change their habits and find new places to spend their time.”