Sunday, December 3, 2023

The race to replace Twitter has been won by nobody.

si_nyam_nyam | Deposit Photos
It's been more than a year since Elon Musk closed on his deal to buy Twitter. As soon as he gained control and began changing stuff around to suit himself -- firing a bunch of people and rebranding the site as X -- users began beating feet for the exits. Somewhere, anywhere, the reasoning went, has to be better than what X is going to become.

But there wasn't really anywhere else on the internet like Twitter. 

Nor is there yet. It's been more than a year, as I said, and while a whole bunch of sites have taken up some of the slack, no single site is a winner. In fact, none of the sites that got the biggest anticipatory fanfare in the early days of X's implosion are showing much of a market share at all. 

This chart shows that the worldwide social media champ is still Facebook, with three billion active users per month. YouTube (owned by Google -- sorry, Alphabet) is next, with two and a half billion; WhatsApp and Instagram (both owned by Meta, which also owns Facebook) are tied at two billion each. TikTok has 1.2 billion, edging out Facebook Messenger, which has about a billion. You have to go pretty far down the list to find X; it's at a paltry 666 million active users per month. (That's more than Truth Social, which stands at about two million, but still.)

Those are worldwide numbers. In the US, in terms of social media platforms' share of total visits, Facebook had nearly half of them in August of this year. Next was Instagram; then Pinterest; and then X. 

Interestingly, nowhere in either of these lists are any of the sites that sprang up in the wake of Musk's purchase of Twitter. Here's a list of some of the wannabes with the biggest hype, and every single one of them has a major drawback. Bluesky -- created by Jack Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter -- has been in beta forever; if you don't know someone who's already in, good luck getting on the platform. Threads is kind of an offshoot of Instagram (which, you'll recall, is owned by Meta), so it's not really its own thing; it had ten million users at startup, but that number plummeted fast. Mastodon got a lot of attention when Twitter was first sold, but some potential users were put off by the complex sign-up process. TikTok gets a mention on this list -- apparently it recently introduced text posts -- but so does Tumblr, which has been around since 2007.

As for me? I'm on Facebook and the dead bird app, and that's basically it. I've joined some of the platforms mentioned above over the years -- Instagram, WhatsApp (purely for phone calls with the other condo board members), and Facebook Messenger, plus Post and Spoutible. But other than Messenger, I almost never go to any of them. I'm almost always on Facebook; then I check Twitter -- sorry, X -- to keep up with political news and a few friends who I don't see anywhere else. (I started the account on Tumblr approximately a million years ago to promote my books. I cannot remember the last time I was there.)

I'm leery of TikTok's possible connection to the Chinese government (I know it's unlikely, but I just keep thinking there must be a good reason that the US government has banned the app on employees' government-issued devices). As for Threads, I'm not enthused about the idea of restricting all my social media activity to the Metaverse (frankly, I'd quit Insta if Meta would let me).

Does that make me a modern-day Luddite? You tell me. And let me know how your own search for the new Twitter is going.


These moments of social media blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!

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