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Race to make twitter better

Race to make twitter better

Elon Musk has made sweeping changes to Twitter since taking over in late October. He has laid off more than half the staff, announced plans to bring previously suspended users back to the site, and feared the site would collapse or be overrun by harassment. As a result, many users have started looking for a life raft, another platform where they can continue tweeting without all the chaos. There's just one problem: There really isn't a viable alternative to Twitter yet.

With the moment ripe, many people are trying to make one. Smaller companies and developers are rushing to put their own twists on the Twitter formula, hoping that changing moderation and the tools people use to connect with each other can fix fundamental problems with the platform. Hopefully users will find a reason to jump in. Running in some capacity has seen an influx of interest.

In an interview with The Verge, Nick Thompson, CEO of The Narwhal Project, an upcoming new conversational platform, said, "We have tons and tons of people on the waiting list."

Improving the quality of conversation is one of the most popular options. The purpose of the Narwhal Project is to provide a space where users can hold discussions online "with a variety of points of view". It has a small but notable group of leaders trying to make it happen, including Thompson, who is also CEO of The Atlantic, Rafi Krikorian, former vice president of engineering at Twitter, and Brian Barrett, former executive editor of Wired.

Narwal's team is studying how conversations work on other major platforms — including Twitter, Facebook, Discord, Reddit, Quora and Slack — with an amalgamation of "new features as well as features that work." Has not been attempted before.

Narwhal isn't publicly available yet and hasn't shared concrete details about how the service will operate. But Thompson says there will be at least one major difference from Twitter: Narwhal will focus on the quality of conversations rather than speed.

"We want the Internet to be a place where people can have thoughtful, interesting, surprising conversations," Thompson says. "We think there are mechanics that we can use in ways that no one else is using."

Another budding platform, Post, is taking a similar approach — and it's already introducing thousands of early users. The service closely resembles Twitter, but it intends to stand out, with a focus on "rigorous" content moderation and the delivery of "premium news".

The Post is led by Noam Bardeen, the former CEO of Waze, who describes the network as "a social platform for real people, real news and civil conversations." The platform will let users buy individual articles from "premium" news providers and tip makers through "integrated micro-payments," something Musk also mentioned adding on Twitter.

The post's prioritization around civic conversations is preventing the site from being widely launched. Bardeen has said that promising to be able to have really strong moderation posts is one of the biggest barriers to getting people to visit the site. Bardeen first introduced the platform on November 14 and expects to reach 50 million daily active users within a year. According to Bardeen's most recent update, the platform has allowed in 65,000 people so far out of 335,000 users on the waiting list.

The service has already run into some hot water, however, as Twitter users have taken issue with some of Bardeen's and Post's decisions. The platform is funded by Andreessen Horowitz — the same venture capital group that invested $400 million in Musk's acquisition — and Bardeen said it will not focus on accessibility to begin with.

While Post and Narwhal aim to reimagine Twitter, other projects aim to recreate Twitter in a big way — just better and without Musk. Hive, a nascent social platform that reached 1.5 million users in November 2022, was a project that some celebrated as the last days of Twitter. It's an intuitive Twitter clone, offering a feed of text-based content, photos and videos from the users you follow, as well as posts by users in different categories like memes, pets or gaming . Also gives option to detect media.

However, it's clearly not ready yet. The two-person team running the site announced Wednesday that they were shutting down their servers while they worked to fix "security issues affecting the stability of our application and the safety of our users." Even before that debacle, it was very clearly in early access, with the Android beta feeling painfully slow and sluggish. And when one of us at The Verge signed up, he got some followers right away, even though he hadn't posted anything. That kind of raises a red flag; While Hive has some rules for dealing with spam, it doesn't include any language about bots — and it's unclear how well the team will be able to moderate the actual humans using its platform.

The biggest name in the Twitter replacement game is Mastodon, which has been building its technology and reputation over the years. Its interface will be familiar to anyone who uses Twitter, with its own versions of timelines, hashtags, favorites and retweets. The big idea behind Mastodon, however, is to put users in charge and allow them to create their own (sometimes special interest) space, rather than a company that unilaterally controls software and moderation – even if that The CEO of the company has taken an oath that he is only following the will of the people.

Unlike other platforms we looked at, Mastodon is a mature platform that has been addressing moderation and technical issues since 2016. The problem is that the way it puts the people in charge can make it a lot less appealing to a general audience. Instead of being one main Mastodon site where all your friends and favorite celebrities are, it's a distributed system. There are dozens of instances of Mastodon, each running on their own servers, having their own administrators and moderation policies, and located on different websites. And while there is a way for people to talk and get content at various instances, it is nowhere near as simple as managing an account on and enabling any public users. admin Rude Schilders says, "I really hope Mastodon takes off and even gets the user count Twitter has now." "But it shouldn't be on one server, or ten, or a hundred. It should be on thousands of servers; that's Mastodon's idea. It shouldn't be servers with millions of people on them.

Schilders wasn't responsible for a social network with more than 100,000 users, and he certainly wasn't expected to moderate that many people. He says he started the server about a year and a half ago because he became interested in using Mastodon five or six years ago. By the end of October, it had only a handful of users. Then, when Musk took over and began his push for "hardcore" Twitter 2.0 and Schilders asked to be added to Mastodon's official server directory, imploded. "When everyone was fired on Twitter, there was also a huge influx of users," Schilders says. "As a result I now have over 100,000 users on my server." Till now, they have kept the service going through donations.

While it's nowhere near the scale of Twitter (according to Musk, the site has about 250 million monetizable daily active users), it's still a lot to worry about when you have 100,000 people in one place. Schilders says he has brought in several volunteer mediators, one of whom is a professional ethics coordinator, and has helped write a new code of conduct. When started, there were four rules. Now, there are 16. Schilders is also looking for moderators who can speak other languages, as they have begun to receive some reports of posts written in Arabic.

In addition to personal block lists of people, he says that Mastodon administrators can shut down entire parts of the network when needed, protecting their users from servers that have poor moderation and bad actors. "If there's only one server with Nazis," he says, "we block the whole server." This means that the people on the Nazi server cannot contact its users, and its users will not be able to see any of their posts.

According to data shared by Eugen Rocco, Mastodon's founder and CEO, Mastodon has gained nearly a million new users in the past few weeks. Clearly people are willing to try it - but the service still struggles in obvious ways., an example run by Rochko and co, is not currently accepting new signups, and members of the press have complained about the platform being slow and difficult to understand or sign up. In theory, this is Mastodon's moment. But if Twitter users do move forward, would they prefer to find out the rules and politics of each instance they want to join or to know that the administrators of those servers can read their DMs?

There's also one hugely obvious problem for all of these services: Twitter. While the general public may put up with the flaws of an alternative platform or may be willing to wait to use it when there is no alternative, the truth of the matter is that Twitter has not yet crashed and burned. You can still use it today, and most of your friends will probably still be on it. Sure, there's a very good chance that Musk's technical and restrained decisions have made it an unattractive place for you, but the alternatives have to prove they can be better, not just another Twitter with the same problems. site.

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