Chances are that at this point, two months into Elon Musk’s reign at Twitter, you’ve heard at least one social network heralded as the site’s replacement. Post News, Mastodon, Hive, resurrected Tumblr accounts, Substack, TikTok or Instagram for those who don’t mind some images with their text—basically every platform out there that isn’t Facebook has been offered up as a possible Twitter alternative. All of them, however, leave something to be desired.
Mastodon’s federation concept, in which “instances,” aka servers, can be linked together by administrators, has been called clunky and confusing by new users trying to sign up. Hive has already had to shut down once this month to reevaluate its security infrastructure. (It’s now back online.) Substacks are too long and too slow to give Twitter users the fast dopamine hit they’ve come to crave. And Tumblr, with its indecipherable memes and sprawling fandoms, is simply too weird for most users. Like astronauts hoping to find a Goldilocks planet to colonize, Twitter diehards continue to explore, hope and pray.
Also like those astronauts, they might not have unlimited time. Musk is drastically changing Twitter’s moderation policy, redesigning how core features work and hemorrhaging both advertisers and engineers. If the past is any guide, any one of those things on its own could be enough to kill the bird site dead.