Alternatives to Twitter include Mastodon, BlueSky, CounterSocial … – USA TODAY

I lost way too much of my life to the drama unfolding on Twitter this past week — heck, even just in the past hour. Nearly everything Elon Musk tweets out these days seems to raise my blood pressure — and my hackles.
Some of it is immature bro-culture “jokes” that aren’t funny. Pro tip: When you have to point out that something’s “funny,” it’s not.
There’s also a definite troll-vibe to a lot of what he’s putting out, like calling credible news sources “fake,” while tweeting — then later deleting — a horrific conspiracy theory about the brutal hammer attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Hate speech has skyrocketed on Twitter since Musk took the helm too. According to Bloomberg, there was a 1,300% increase in a racist slur shortly after the takeover.
That, along with a dramatic spike in antisemitism and an astounding resurgence in coronavirus conspiracy theory rhetoric, has sparked an exodus among advertisers, celebrities and people like you and me who don’t want to lose another minute to the madness.
Where do we go from here?
Trending hashtag #twittermigration points to a new crop of social media sites such as Mastodon, CounterSocial and even newcomer uSync as places social seekers are starting to flock.
I’ve been trying several out for the last week and honestly? Ugh. Every single one of them has a learning curve and who has time for that? It’s similar to the way I felt about Instagram and then TikTok though, and finding your stride on a kinder, gentler, less Musk-y social media site might be worth it.
Here’s a look at some of the top alternatives so far.
Everyone’s talking about Mastodon and it’s the early front runner for people flying the coop. At time of writing, the number of people who’ve signed up to Mastodon this week has surpassed 230,000, bringing the total number of accounts to nearly 5.9 million.
The platform’s been around for six years, and definitely skews toward someone who’s already tech-savvy. The first hurdle you face is trying to figure out how to sign up. It’s a decentralized open-source platform, which means rather than joining one company on one platform — you have to join an established group hosted by an organization or individual on their server.
“It is a public square,” Mastodon tweeted this week. “It is a global, decentralized social network. Your server is where your account is hosted, communication is global.”
Once you pick your server or “homeroom,” as I’ve come to think of it, you can create a profile, upload photos and video and post “toots” — Mastodon’s version of tweets — messages of up to 500 characters. It’s best to use hashtags so that other people can find your “toots,” and you’ll see it all unfold on a timeline similar to Twitter.
To join, you can go to on a desktop and click on the Servers link at the top of the page to figure out what group to sign-in with.
You can pick your “homeroom server” by topic or language, or use a generic one like, which has a larger user base to begin with. Once there, you might want to use a site like Twitodon to regroup with all your friends from Twitter on the new platform.
You might already be familiar with Tumblr — it’s been around since 2007, and it’s easy to use, gorgeously designed, and you might find a lot of your contacts are already there.
In place of tweets, you contribute microblog-like posts, which can be can be text, images, audio, video, DM-like chats or quotations. It offers more variety than Twitter and feels like a designer space, while still remaining intuitive, easy to set up and simple to use.
Like Facebook and others, you have the option to follow and be followed, like, comment and repost. You can also choose your areas of interest to show up most in your feeds, including art, pets, technology, parenting, news, cooking and many others.
Hanging out on Tumblr for a few hours this week made me wonder why it never really took off. It’s only one year younger than Twitter, and at one point was valued at more than a billion dollars. The gist? Yahoo! bought it for 1.1 billion in 2013. By 2019, and another owner corporate owner later (Verizon) it sold in a fire sale for $3M. There’s a good write-up of it’s troubled past, as well as it’s promising future, here.
Tumblr is free, but you can pay $5 a month to get rids of ads on the site.
If you’re missing the kinder, gentler way to keep in touch with your friends, family, colleagues or people you went to high school with, try uSync ($3.99). It quietly rolled out of beta just a few weeks ago and is available on an app (iOS, Android) or from your desktop.
You can post long form blog-style content with text, video and photos in the “Story” area, or post shorter “Scribbles” that, as far as I could tell by trial and error, are limited to 275 characters. In addition, you can also create events, seek out specific crowds who share an interest, share music, entertainment and even manage your calendar.
The first difference from other social media you’ll notice right away is that you have to pay for it. CEO Darrell Lynn told me that’s just one way of steering clear of the kind of mess Twiiter’s in now, with both advertisers and new subscription fees.
“We want to be ad free, we want to see great work and not be beholden to a third party,” Lynn said over video call. “We don’t need a billion people on the platform to offer a great experience, we just want to be able to continue the work to drive the progressiveness forward and take advantage of all the great tech out there to make your life better and make it simple and easy at the same time.”
As a fledgling social media site, uSync shows a lot of promise, but it’s still new and still frustrating. There were several times I had questions about specific functionality that the on-boarding walk-though didn’t answer, nor did the FAQ pages, such as how to import my contacts or delete a post.
I was able to reach out to the company for those specifics, but it should be easier and more intuitive overall. The company offered to give me a personal tutorial, but I declined because that’s not something they do for the average person paying for the app.
What I like most about uSync though, is where Lynn, a former director at Apple under Steve Jobs, is coming from, and what problems he’s focused on solving.
“How can we create an environment that allows us to have conversations and engage with each other in a way that’s respectful?” Lynn asked. “Our intent is not to make any kind of political or cultural decisions for the human race. What we’re trying to do is make sure we’ve got an honest and authentic conversation among people that isn’t as toxic as what currently exists. “
I can’t wait to give former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky a try, but it’s not out yet.
The company said a few weeks ago in mid-Octoberthat the app would launch soon  with 30,000 signed up for its waitlist. That number is sure to be much higher now, as I and hundreds more people have added our names to that list this past week.
What we know Bluesky so far is that it started as a Twitter nonprofit initiative in 2019, and promises to give users control of their own data and algorithms.
The company also said it will give people the ability to maintain ownership of their published content and to move their posts across different social networks. The company is still inviting people to sign up and to try the app in its beta stages before it launches to the public.
I also gave CounterSocial, cohost, Tribel and several others potential alternatives a try.
CounterSocial also shows promise but hurt my eyes. There’s just too much going on and it feels very early TweetDeck with so many columns and moving parts. Cohost is still in beta and felt too “early college days.”
I like the look and feel of Tribel but couldn’t find any of my current contacts on it and am worried that it’s already being looked at like the left-leaning version of Truth Social. I’ll continue to ferret these out to see if any rise above the rest.
Before you jump into any new social media sites, think about what you use Twitter for the most.
News: Most people say “news” is one of the top reasons they head to Twitter. I. too, use it quite a bit when breaking news happens. I can quickly see events unfold in real time from my most-trusted news sources and outlets — including fellow journalists I follow on the site.
For this, you can add your most trusted news outlet app to your home screen, and enable alerts.
Or use an app such as Feedly or Newsify to recreate that Twitter-like constant feed filled with the latest news and information. One of the perks of switching from Twitter to an actual news source is there’s less room for bots, trolls and fakes to trick you into falling for a conspiracy theory.
Deep thoughts or laugh-breaks: Another reason many of us jump on Twitter is to see what everyone’s talking about. It’s been a fabulous fix to see what intelligent, passionate, hilarious people are saying about niche things we’re into as well. For instance, I follow a range of people to get their takes on everything from the latest gadget to a presidential election.
Most of the people I follow have a notable presence on at least one of the other big social media outlets like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube or Facebook. If I can’t find them there, then I look for their website, newsletter or even podcast to continue getting their tidbits of brilliance. This includes some of my LOL go-to’s like comic-relief-dad author James Breakwell @XplodingUnicorn or funny photoshop wizard James Fridman @fjamie013.
I test most of these apps with a specific email that I use just for testing apps, and I’m careful about what personal information I share with any company, especially the new kids on the block.
Consider ethical and privacy issues and think of how many times our data’s been compromised on Facebook and other large sites.
Be sure to check your privacy settings, both in-app and on your smartphone, and don’t hand over contacts just because a company keeps asking for them. Also, be sure to sign up with an alias email, use a strong password and two-factor authentication.


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