RIP Twitter (as we know it)

Twitter logo w/dark background

Last updated on May 16th, 2023

Since billionaire Tesla/SpaceX owner Elon Musk took over Twitter several weeks ago, things on the social network have been in a state of chaos. It seems every day brings some new horrific bit of news: staff being fired or quitting en masse; bizarre new features proposed, then scrapped or delayed (such as Twitter Blue); advertisers and users increasingly avoiding the site; and so on.

The latest bit of news (as of this writing) is the expected (but still big) bombshell: Musk has undone Donald Trump’s permanent ban, which allows him to resume using the social network. While Trump has claimed he’s sticking with his own alt-right social network, Truth Social, everyone knows a “Donald Trump promise” isn’t worth much. And even if he does stick with his Twitter knockoff, there’s presumably nothing stopping him (or his staff) from just reposting his Truth Social posts to Twitter.

The end of Twitter (as we know it)

Twitter welcome screen
Photo from Pixabay.

Given all of the above, many users, including myself, feel it’s the end of Twitter as we know it. As such, many users are finally deciding to find alternatives to Twitter. Many users posted their farewell tweets (in case the site starts seeing outages), while also noting where else they can be found online. From what I’ve seen, Mastodon and Tumblr are the most popular alternatives so far, even if they aren’t perfect replacements.

While I don’t expect Twitter to go the way of Google+ and completely vanish, I do expect the service to start having major usability problems. With Twitter’s staff largely gone, and taking their knowledge of Twitter’s workings with them, I expect a lot of problems to start emerging: major periods of downtime/outages; security breaches; an increase in spam accounts and hate speech; major bugs and glitches; and so on. Basically, while it won’t vanish, the experience will likely degrade to the point it may as well be unusable. And good luck hiring anyone who wants to work for an obnoxious billionaire who acts like a bad cartoon boss. (Again, this is why unions still matter, even if you’re working in Silicon Valley.)

On top of that, advertisers and some major companies are starting to avoid Twitter. CBS News put a halt on updating its Twitter account for a few days. Meanwhile, Broadway theater magazine Playbill has left Twitter for good. (Even their website doesn’t list a Twitter icon.) A number of celebrities have also halted their Twitter usage (at least for now), including actor Whoopi Goldberg, R&B singer Toni Braxton, and “Bill and Ted” actor Alex Winter.

A few companies and media outlets are launching Mastodon accounts, just in case. One example is Seattle PBS affiliate KCTS. Another example is Volkswagen.

I expect the World Cup, which started this week, to hammer away at Twitter’s stability. Previous World Cups have placed a ton of stress on Twitter’s servers; this year, with the lack of staff left, things don’t look good for Twitter to avoid having problems.

My history with Twitter

Twitter app on screen
“Twitter App” by Brett Jordan is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Flickr / cropped from original)

I first signed up for Twitter in 2009, and it soon became my favorite social network. I’ve enjoyed using it (despite its problems), and met new people through the bird app.

However, Musk buying Twitter has irritated me to no end. A man who’s basically a middle-aged, somewhat-more-competent version of Donald Trump taking over the home of “Black Twitter?” No good would come from that… and as it turns out, I was right.

Even worse, I thought a Musk-run Twitter would be figuratively unusable: just an increase in trolls and hate speech, but still fully operational. I didn’t expect Twitter to become literally unusable, with most of Twitter’s staff gone and much of its infrastructure compromised.

I’m done with Twitter

As I’ve said before, Trump being allowed to return to Twitter is my limit for what I’d tolerate, and that’s on top of everything else that’s happened. Thus, I left Twitter as of Saturday night, after posting a thread about leaving. The picture below is, for now, my final tweet. (I’d embed the original link instead, but who knows for how much longer embedded Twitter links will work.)

My final Twitter tweet
My final Twitter tweet. Comic art from “World’s Finest Comics” #323 (January 1986); art by Denys Cowan, Dick Giordano, and Tatjana Wood. (DC Comics). (Screenshot by author)

(Comic trivia time: “World’s Finest Comics,” or “World’s Finest” for short, ran from 1941 to 1986. It spent most of its history as the home of monthly Superman/Batman team-up stories. (A reason the duo is still nicknamed “the World’s Finest” by fans.) There’s been Superman/Batman team-up comics in recent years, mostly under the generic titles “Superman/Batman” or “Batman/Superman.”)

Fortunately, I’ve already spent time seeing if the people I follow on Twitter are on other social networks. Mastodon, Instagram, Tumblr, newsletters, or adding their blogs to my RSS reader seem to cover most of who I followed. As such, other than occasionally checking back to see if I missed any stragglers (or for any direct messages), I’m done with Twitter. I’ve deleted the Twitter apps from my phone, and removed the links to my Twitter account from the blog.

That said, I haven’t deleted my account. Instead, my Twitter bio and a pinned tweet redirect people to my other spots online (Mastodon, Instagram, Tumblr, and the blog/newsletter). Not deleting my account also prevents seeing my screen name being reused by some troll. (Though I could see Musk mass-deleting inactive accounts for “reasons,” rendering this moot.) Finally, there’s the chance Musk sells Twitter off for pennies on the dollar (similar to what happened with Tumblr), and the new owners make the site usable again.

Some people have urged sticking with Twitter until the absolute, final end, to “fight for our space.” However, I don’t think it’s my job to stick with a social network I dislike using out of some sense of “duty.”

For now, I’m pressing my Mastodon account into full usage as a Twitter replacement. It helps that many people from Twitter have migrated there.

Again, I hate to see my usage of Twitter end this way. But at least I still have my blog, which can’t be directly controlled or bought out by some boorish billionaire. So long, Twitter; it’s been fun.

Image by Alan Carrera from Pixabay

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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