feature image via Wired.
We probably all know by now, in the deletion heard ’round the world, that Lindy West left Twitter. Here’s the reason:
On 29 December, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted: “What’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017?” One user responded: “Comprehensive plan for getting rid of the Nazis.”
“We’ve been working on our policies and controls,” Dorsey replied. “What’s the next most critical thing?” Oh, what’s our second-highest priority after Nazis? I’d say No 2 is also Nazis. And No 3. In fact, you can just go ahead and slide “Nazis” into the top 100 spots. Get back to me when your website isn’t a roiling rat-king of Nazis. Nazis are bad, you see?”
Twitter does feel like a roiling rat-king, and it feels like we’ve gotten to the point in US politics where “Nazis are bad” is a partisan statement. I’d say if you’re going to leave Twitter, now is the time. But I want to take a quick moment to acknowledge a few things, first and foremost being not every aspiring young fill-in-the-blank can actually leave one of the most popular social media platforms without hurting themselves professionally. Second is that if all the decent people leave, one of the most popular and powerful social media platforms will be populated only by Nazis and the journalists who are listening to them, which might not be good. Then again, it also might not be good for Twitter to bleed users until they do something about the Nazis! Ugh, there are so many ways this could all go and so little precedent for how it will turn out. But third, if you are being “micromanaged by strangers” as West says, regardless of any of these things, it might be good for your mental health to peace out of Twitter! And that’s okay too! Social media shouldn’t be causing you anguish—it should be a way to connect with friends and future friends you haven’t met yet! Health first, then other things! In the spirit of that, here’s four Twitter alternatives for us to populate until Twitter takes care of their Nazi problem.
The prettiest, most streamlined option, App.net isn’t just a Twitter substitute—Broadcast is, but this account also signs you into a whole host of other apps. It’s growing quickly and if you’re a developer, it has an open API that you can build on. Out of all the apps in this round up, this one looks the most like Twitter, but you can use up to 256 characters and add a photo. There’s also a plethora of content provided by your favorite writers on a whole bunch of subjects. The New Yorker is even on there.
I’ll start by saying Plurk has a certain…aesthetic. One comparable to its name. If you’re a fan of the sleek look of the present internet, this might not be for you. If, however, you’re missing some of the chaos of the 90’s and early aughts, you may want to sign on and give Plurk a try. Plurk, like, Twitter, has a collective timeline (that scrolls sideways instead of up and down) based on those you’re following. You can also set each individual Plurk’s privacy settings (a feature Twitter is missing, it’s all or nothing on protected Tweets). There are some premium features, but Plurk is entirely usable without them. AND they also have a cute throwback to the early days of Facebook—you can say [your username] IS [whatever you fill out as your Plurk], but you can also select other verbs like “wonders” or “feels” or even “hates.” If you can navigate the chaotic UX, then Plurk might be a really cute place to gather your queers.
Path is something I used a million years ago. And I loved it. The only reason I left it is because not enough people were on it. But if we could populate it, well, I’d certainly be down to go back. Path has a cute sharing mechanism where you can share, yes, the same sorts of short-burst text thoughts as Twitter. But you can also share what sort of music you’re listening to on your phone and when you’re going to sleep and waking up. Which is a little much. But I always knew which of my co-workers stayed up all night playing Kingdom Hearts as a result.
Remember Ello? Remember when Facebook’s real name policy was used to target queer and trans people and a bunch of people proposed fleeing to another platform? Yeah, Ello was that platform, and it didn’t simply go away when it’s moment in the limelight was through. It’s become a thriving community of artists and it’s still a beautiful, minimalist way to gather your creative types. Post images, thoughts and even art pieces for sale.