Under the trend of “Goodbye Twitter”, where else can we escape to?
Amidst the "Goodbye Twitter" trend, where else can we go?
As more and more users escape traditional social media platforms like Reddit and Twitter, social protocols and products like Bluesky and Mastodon will become increasingly important in the future market.
Written by: Jaleel, LeftOfCenter
Edited by: Jack
The proliferation of Web3 once led us to question the significance of decentralized social media platforms. Indeed, when Web2 can meet all our everyday social needs, why do we need a decentralized social media platform? However, when Reddit announced the closure of its free API and began charging approximately RMB 1.7 per 1,000 requests from July 1, and the subsequent introduction of Elon Musk’s limited flow policy on July 2, Twitter users were temporarily restricted from reading tweets: verified accounts could read up to 6,000 tweets a day, unverified accounts 600 tweets, and new unverified accounts 300 tweets.
These measures and changes by Reddit and Twitter have caused dissatisfaction among a large number of users. Many subreddits on Reddit have announced their closure to protest against the high API pricing. In addition, tags and search terms such as “GoodBye Twitter” and “RIP Twitter” have also appeared frequently, and finding new social media platform substitutes has become almost a must for us.
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When users escape from Reddit and Twitter, where else can they go? When the internet is no longer the best choice, what are the alternatives?
Like everyone else, even the cryptocurrency industry’s leading figure Vitalik is facing this problem. At the end of last year, he tweeted that he bowed to Elon Musk and would still pay Twitter a monthly membership fee of $8, but at the same time, he was eagerly trying out new social media platforms and protocols, including Mastodon, Farcaster, Lens, and Nostr.
In the data chart compiled by CoinGecko, we can see that according to the average number of independent visitors per month from January to April 2023, Steemit, as a replacement for Reddit, has seen great growth in the number of independent visitors, while Gab, Mastodon, Bluesky, Minds, Lenster, Snort, and other Twitter substitutes are also high in the rankings.
BlockBeats will introduce several social network platforms as alternatives to Twitter in the following content. Users can try them out according to their needs.
Bluesky receives “record-breaking traffic” ever since Elon Musk launched limited traffic policy on July 2
Bluesky is a decentralized social application that was originally incubated by Twitter in 2019 when Jack Dorsey was still CEO of Twitter. Bluesky has a user interface and algorithm selection similar to Twitter, as well as co-design and community-specific review. At the beginning of Bluesky’s establishment, Jack Dorsey announced that Twitter would fund a “small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers” to establish a decentralized standard for social media, with the initial goal of Twitter adopting this standard.
However, as we all know, Elon Musk made a high-profile move to acquire Twitter, so Bluesky had completely separated from Twitter by the end of 2022. Although Jack Dorsey sponsored Bluesky and served on the company’s board of directors, he was not involved in daily development. Bluesky’s CEO is Jay Graber, who previously worked as a software engineer for the cryptocurrency Zcash and founded an event planning website called Happen.
Currently, Bluesky is still invitation-only in its beta version, but its user base is still growing as more people enter the site. According to data released at the end of April, Bluesky has about 50,000 users. As of mid-May, a Bluesky team spokesperson said that Bluesky has over 66,000 users and a waiting list of over 1.9 million. According to data.ai, the app has been downloaded over 375,000 times. These scarce invitations are given to users every two weeks and have caused a frenzy, with prices on eBay as high as $200 per invitation.
Currently, many well-known media personalities and organizations have found a “new home” on Bluesky, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and CNN’s Jake Tapper.
When it comes to Bluesky, sponsored by Jack Dorsey, we cannot fail to mention Nostr, a social protocol that Jack Dorsey donated 14 BTC to.
Anti-Censorship Global Social Network Nostr
The founder of Nostr, fiatjaf, is a person with strong humanistic care. As a technical expert, the hundreds of book lists recommended on his personal website are all in the field of sociology and philosophy.
On November 20, 2019, fiatjaf began to develop the Nostr protocol, hoping to create a simple, open, global, decentralized, and anti-censorship social protocol. That day, he wrote in his blog: “Nostr is the simplest open protocol based on encryption keys and signatures, does not rely on any trusted central server, does not rely on P2P technology, and can create an anti-censorship global social network for once and for all.”
After a year, in November 2020, the first batch of participants gradually expanded. “Nostr’s group transformed from a basic group to a super group in Telegram, and began to discuss the possibility of a decentralized social network, the possibility of providing funding for such projects, the possibility of Nostr supporting smart contracts, and the name of the Nostr protocol.”
Nostr is not a product or protocol of Web3, and it can even be said that Nostr has nothing to do with Web3. Jack Dorsey believes that the essence of Web3 has not escaped the monopoly of capital. If this problem is to be solved at the economic level, institutional financing must be abandoned, whether in the form of equity or tokens. Nostr meets his expectations, with no institutional financing and no token model. This is also the reason why Jack Dorsey donated 14 BTC to Nostr and publicly supported it.
Edward Joseph Snowden, a former CIA employee who once revealed the Prism program to the media, hates the surveillance machine secretly built by the government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom, and the basic freedoms of people around the world. He also hopes to have a social garden without walls, so he is a “loyal” user of Nostr.
Composable Social Graph Lens
Before Lens was launched, it was destined to be compared with Nostr. The founder of the Lens protocol is Stani Kulechov, the CEO and founder of the famous DeFi protocol Aave. As mentioned earlier, Jack Dorsey has always been critical of Web3 and seems to be mocking the concept of Web3. He even skipped Web4 and proposed to build Web5.
Jack Dorsey’s criticism of Web3 has also received a lot of backlash, including from Stani Kulechov, the CEO and founder of the famous Defi protocol Aave. Stani couldn’t stand Jack Dorsey’s sarcasm and quipped, “Since Jack Dorsey is building Aave on Bitcoin, Aave should also build Twitter on Ethereum.”
Related reading: “Lens or Nostr? Finding the ultimate solution for future social media”
In February 2022, Stani publicly released the Lens protocol on Twitter in the form of an open letter, and it was officially launched on the Polygon mainnet after testing in May of the same year.
Lens has a very different positioning from Nostr. Its positioning and explanation are: Lens Protocol is a composable and decentralized social graph and protocol, on which developers can easily build social media platforms and design meaningful social experiences without relying on feedback mechanisms to lock in users’ attention. The Lens protocol uses NFT technology to ensure that users fully own their data when using the Lens protocol, and creators can also open up new ways to profit.
The following quote from the Lens website summarizes the features of Lens well: “With the Lens Protocol, everything is in your control. You own your profile, where you use it, how you use it, and even how you profit from it. This means you have control over your content, and it’s an NFT in your wallet. This isn’t just easy. This is what digital identity should do: everything is yours.”
After Twitter users were temporarily restricted from reading tweets, the Lens protocol also released a “No limits” tweet with a rise in the floor price of Lens protocol profiles NFTs.
The biggest beneficiary of leaving Twitter is Mastodon
Last year, when Elon Musk acquired Twitter and launched a series of unsatisfactory measures, the biggest beneficiary was Mastodon.
Established in 2016, Mastodon is a free and open-source decentralized distributed microblogging social network, consisting of servers run independently by different operators that exchange data in a federated manner, and had accumulated about 500,000 active users before Elon Musk acquired Twitter.
When Elon Musk laid off a large number of employees and caused a lot of confusion by modifying Twitter’s verification policy at the end of 2022, Mastodon attracted a large number of users. At its peak, it added more than 130,000 users per day, and the number of active users reached 2.5 million in early December last year. After January this year, the number of active users dropped to 1.8 million, but it is still an order of magnitude higher than Lens and Nostr, which are protocols.
The rapid growth of Mastodon users has obviously attracted the attention of Elon Musk. Twitter has banned links to Mastodon and suspended users who post Mastodon usernames, including the official Mastodon account. In a Twitter SBlockingces, Elon Musk directly said, “Fucking post Mastodon all goddamn day long, I don’t care.”
Mastodon, which is based on the activtypub protocol, has a relatively complete set of infrastructure, and many users who have personally experienced it have feedback that it has reached a state no less than Twitter. In this regard, it is much more mature than Lens and Nostr, and its application level or protocol tools are more complete.
Due to its slightly higher product maturity, Mastodon seems to be the biggest winner in this round of user exodus from Twitter. Eugen Rochko, the founder and CEO of Mastodon, is a German programmer. According to the data he shared, the number of Mastodon’s active users increased by 294,000 this weekend, and the amount of activity posted has doubled.
It is worth mentioning that Phil Daian, a member of the Ethereum Foundation, operates an encrypted community called cryptodon.lol on Mastodon, and Vitalik has also joined.
P2P network Urbit
Urbit aims to break the centralized “client-server” model and invent a brand new P2P network. This network is composed of personal servers owned and operated by users, which means that users will not access third-party servers provided by others, but directly connect to other people on the network through P2P- completely eliminating intermediaries and the power that comes with them. Urbit’s goal is to completely replace the existing oligopoly of Web2 Internet with a more fair, private, and open alternative.
From the beginning, it has been favored by top-tier investors and investors such as Peter Thiel, crypto VC a16z, Balaji S. Srinivasan. Later, it attracted engineering-oriented VC such as Coinfund and Assembly Capital to start building communities and development on Urbit.
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Meta Platforms has launched an attack amid the wave of “exit Twitter” frenzy and is planning to release a social app called Threads, which is expected to go live on Thursday, July 6. Threads is developed based on Instagram’s user base and combines elements of Instagram and Twitter.
The screenshot indicates that users will apparently be able to log in to Threads with their Instagram ID, which could attract existing Instagram users and new users seeking a different social media experience. At a company-wide meeting last month, Meta executives shared that Instagram Threads will integrate the decentralized social media protocol ActivityPub, which is based on Mastodon.
Threads is officially and briefly described on the App Store as: Threads is the place where communities come together to discuss everything from what you care about today to tomorrow’s trends. No matter what you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things, or build your own loyal followers and share your ideas, perspectives, and creativity with the world.
Threads is named after Twitter’s competitor, and its functionality seems very similar to Twitter. Some technicians even call it the “Twitter killer.” It’s hard not to think of Musk and Zuckerberg’s tense showdown last week when the name of Threads, which is about to launch, is mentioned. Musk and Zuckerberg have been at odds for years, and tension between the two has increased since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter at the end of last year.
Returning to the initial topic, the stories of Reddit and Twitter tell us that only when real problems arise can we, as users, truly feel the drawbacks of centralization and the benefits of decentralization – “open sharing + data availability.” Meanwhile, as more and more users flee traditional social media such as Reddit and Twitter, social protocols and products such as Bluesky, Mastodon, Urbit, Lens, and Nostr will grow in the future market.
The entry of Threads has also made this race more exciting. However, what is the future of the social track? Is decentralization the ultimate goal of social media? Who can run on this market? The answers to these questions will require a lot of time to witness, but one thing that is not in doubt is that the future of social media will be determined by user choice.