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Done with Twitter? Here are the best alternatives

Twitter, or as it's now known, X, isn't the same as it used to be. Here are the best Twitter alternatives if you're looking to leave the social media site.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Bluesky | The best Twitter alternative overall (if you can get in)
Bluesky Social download
The best Twitter alternative overall (if you can get in)
View now View at Bluesky
Counter.Social | The best social network for avoiding trolls
The best social network for avoiding trolls
View now View at Counter.Social
Diaspora* | The best Twitter alternative for those who want a cross between Facebook and Twitter
The best Twitter alternative for those who want a cross between Facebook and Twitter
View now View at Diaspora*
T2 Social | The best Twitter alternative still in development
T2 Social
T2 Social
The best Twitter alternative still in development
View now View at T2 Social
Threads | Best Twitter alternative for Instagram fans
Thread app
Best Twitter alternative for Instagram fans
View now View at Threads

As Twitter -- or, as it's now been rebranded by owner Elon Musk, X -- continues to be plagued by controversy, many people are looking for a new online home. The good news of course is there are many other social networks. The bad news is none of them are complete Twitter replacements. 

So, first thing's first. You must set your expectations. For example, no matter where you go, you won't find all your friends, followers, or social media leaders. While it appears Mastodon is attracting the most people to date, popular figures are scattering all over the social Internet. For example, Ryan Reynolds, a.k.a. Marvel's Deadpool, is now making his virtual home on the old-school Tumblr network.

Each Twitter alternative has its own rules, character limits, and niche-interest communities. I've been using social media since the pre-Web days of the '80s, and have joined every new would-be Twitter replacement to determine which are worth your time. Bluesky is my pick for best Twitter alternative overall, thanks to its lack of ads and similar look and feel to Twitter. Read on for the rest of my top picks for best Twitter replacement.

The best Twitter alternatives of 2023

Pros & Cons
  • Ad-free
  • Looks and feels like Twitter
  • Still invitation-only
More Details

Bluesky is the social network many people want to get on but can't -- as of this writing, there are about 370,000 users, and almost 2 million on the waiting list. Why? Because, essentially, Bluesky is Twitter without the ads and without as much angry discourse, at least for now. 

But, as Mike Masnick, the editor of the Techdirt, skeeted (a portmanteau of "tweet" and "sky"), "just a bit of a warning from a jaded old internet guy: many of the exciting things people are highlighting are simply because it's new and small. Those things will change with time. Keeping a good community takes work." He's right.

Bluesky looks like, and in many ways, acts like Twitter. It has a maximum post length of 300 characters and features to like, reply, and repost messages. It also includes a "What's Hot" feed for trending posts and a "Following" feed for accounts you follow.

Eventually, Bluesky will deploy an open social networking protocol, AT Protocol. This is designed to support a decentralized social network the way Mastodon already does with ActivityPub. When it works -- if it works -- you'll be able to set up your own AT-based server. You'll also be able to decide what you see by controlling your traffic with algorithms, where you make the call, not some company. You will also be able to change hosts without losing your content, your followers, or your identity.

For now, Bluesky is available on an invitation-only basis. You must either join a waitlist or receive an invite from an existing member. Since existing members still only get one invite every two weeks they've been on the service, you could be in for a long wait unless you've got a close friend who's already in.

That's a shame. For me, Bluesky is the best Twitter replacement to date. 

Also: 5 reasons to try Twitter rival Bluesky


The best Twitter alternative for most people

Pros & Cons
  • Ad-free
  • Open source
  • The interface is a bit rough
  • Finding and following friends and discussions can be difficult
More Details

Mastodon is the Twitter-alternative social media network most people know. It's also certainly the most popular. Mastodon is an open source-based social network of small communities. It is also part of the Fediverse, with its advantages and disadvantages. 

Mastodon uses a network consisting of individual communities that can interact with one another. Getting started with Mastodon is simple; just find a community that interests you and create a profile. You can make posts up to 500 characters, respond to threads, and share blogs from all of your selected communities.

Mastodon also has useful tools for migrating from Twitter. For example, Fedifinder can search your Twitter account for the accounts you follow there and try to find matches for them in the fediverse. This makes catching up with people you've been following on Twitter much easier.

Mastodon's feel is reminiscent of Twitter -- for example, when you get an account on one node or another and start following people, you'll see a scrolling feed of posts from their accounts. That said, Mastodon's interface is on the rough side.

I like Mastodon, but I'm unsure how far its initial wave of popularity as Twitter staggers about can carry it. 

Also: Mastodon isn't Twitter but it's glorious

Pros & Cons
  • Ad-free
  • Excellent discussion interface
  • Limited availability
More Details

Counter.Social is a great small social network. According to Sensor Tower, a market intelligence analysis company, CounterSocial grew by 2,300% to 24,000 installs in the 12 days following Musk's acquisition of Twitter. 

The secret? This cloud-based social network is known for its friendliness and its strict rules against trolls and fake news. 

The up to 500-word posts are displayed in chronological order. The result is much cleaner and more enjoyable message streams. The platform also supports hashtags, which some social networks don't. 

Counter.Social's desktop interface looks much like TweetDeck -- that is, it gives you multiple ways to display messages in columns. So, for example, you can have one for friends, one for notifications, one for all messages, one for fellow Linux fans, and so on. 

Counter.Social also doesn't have commercial users or advertising. The service's founder, a hacker and activist known as The Jester, relies on donations to keep the lights on. For $5 a month, donors get a Pro account. With this, they get a selection of embedded news channels, such as MSNBC, and the ability to send self-destructing messages.

Pros & Cons
  • Ad-free
  • Open source
  • A cross between Facebook and Twitter
  • Performance can be slow
  • Can be difficult to navigate
More Details

Diaspora* is an open-source-based social network of social networks. Each "pod" is run by an individual on his or her own server. Like Mastodon, these are all joined together in what's called the Fediverse. Unlike Twitter, there's no central site, organization, or even software. You simply hunt down a Diaspora* pod that suits you, join it, and off you go. The overall look and feel combines Facebook and Twitter, but without their ads. 

In my case, I belong to Glass Wings, which tends to have people involved in technology and art. Unfortunately, it's not admitting new users at this time. Can't find one that suits you? Then start your own pod with your own interests and rules. 

Regardless of the platform, you won't see advertisements or algorithms that decide what messages you'll see. Instead, it consists of multiple small communities of like-minded people.

Once you've joined, you can connect and follow people on other pods. Finding them on the Fediverse, however, can be difficult. You must have that person's specific ID to track them down. 

The interface, which is more like Facebook than Twitter, can also be difficult to navigate. For example, you can't edit messages once they've been posted -- not that you can do that on Twitter either. 

Like most social networks, when you get right down to it, the real value you get from it is from the people you follow and befriend on it. For me, Diaspora* has an agreeable mix of like-minded folks, so I'm willing to put up with the interface.

Pros & Cons
  • Ad-free
  • Looks and feels like Twitter
  • Tiny population at this point
  • Open DMs
More Details

Bluesky wasn't the only social network to spring from Twitter. T2 Social is an early-stage, Twitter-like social network. This "place to have the authentic conversations we've always wanted to have" has less than 50,000 members and is also invite-only.  

Its messages currently have a 280-character limit. The network just added direct messaging (DM). However, DMs on T2 Social are not end-to-end encrypted. That's designed so T2's managers can combat DM spam and harassment. That's all well and good, but if you want to have private conversations, this isn't your social network.

T2 is still very much a work in progress. I like what I see of it so far, but it's very early days. 

Thread app
Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Pros & Cons
  • If you have an Instagram account, you can have a Threads account
  • Instagram friends and followers are only a click away
  • No PC support
  • Not discussion-friendly
More Details

At first, it looked like Meta's Threads was going to be the place for Twitter refugees. It was wildly popular. But very quickly, that popularity collapsed. According to website analysis company SimilarWeb, on Threads' best day to date, July 7, it had more than 49 million daily active users on Android alone (that's almost half of Twitter's usage on the same day). A week later, that number had plummeted to 23.6 million. 

What happened? I never liked Threads, and my bet is many people found the same things annoying as I did.

For example, you can only use Threads via an Android or iOS app. Now, some people can write text easily on their phones. I'm not one of them. Sure, I can text a few words, but even Twitter's 280 characters are a challenge for me. And I'm not alone. Give those of us who "talk" through a keyboard a web-based interface already. 

I also strongly suspect that since you must have an Instagram account to use Threads, the platform likely got a boost from all those users trying it out, but then found no reason to stick around. Why duplicate their posts for the same audience? 

In addition, as David F. Carr, SimilarWeb's Senior Insights Manager, put it, "Threads is missing many basic features and still needs to offer a compelling reason to switch from Twitter or start a new social media habit with Threads." I can't see Instagram's little brother getting anywhere unless it does.

Also: I've used social networks since the 80s. Threads is the most annoying one I've tried

What is the best Twitter alternative?

Twitter has long dominated as a mainstay among social media sites, but it certainly is not for everyone. Here is a look at the best Twitter alternative to download if you want to try a new platform.

Best Twitter alternativeProsCons
BlueskyAd-free; looks and feels like TwitterCurrently invitation-only
MastodonAd-free; open-sourceAwkward interface; finding and following friends and discussions can be difficult
Counter.SocialAd-free; excellent discussion interfaceLimited availability
Diaspora*Ad-free; open-source; a cross between Twitter and FacebookSlow performance; difficult to navigate
T2 SocialAd-free; looks and feels like TwitterSmall population; open DMs
ThreadsEasy to port your Instagram follows overNo PC support; not discussion friendly

Which is the best Twitter alternative for you?

Just because Bluesky is my pick for the best Twitter alternative overall doesn't mean that it is the right service for you. It can be hard to decipher the differences between all of the best Twitter alternatives, especially when you have not used the service yet. To help, these are my recommendations to help you find the best Twitter alternative for you. 

Choose this best Twitter alternative...If you want...
BlueskyTwitter the way it was in the past.
MastodonOpen source with no ads and a large community.
Counter.SocialA social network where everyone knows your name.
Diaspora*Open source with multiple small communities.
T2 SocialTo get in on a new platform during its early days.
ThreadsDiscussions to go along with your Instagram photos.

How did we choose these Twitter alternatives?

I started using social networking in the days of Usenet and online services, such as CompuServe, GEnie, and Prodigy. Over the years, I helped run several of them. Today, I'm still a heavy social-network user.

These days, I'm on all the newer, would-be Twitter replacements, and I have many friends who are also on most of them. In short, I know what I'm looking at, why people come to social networks, and why they leave.

It's all about finding a community of agreeable people with technology that encourages communication. That's where Twitter is losing it, as it often encourages hostility rather than friendliness.  

How are these Twitter alternatives different from Twitter?

Each network's user interface and features differ from one another. For instance, it's relatively easy to find people on Twitter, but it can be quite difficult on Mastodon or Diaspora*. That's because they run on independent servers, also known as pods or instances. Twitter, and most other social networks, run on centralized cloud services. 

So, if you want to follow me on Twitter, you can find me with either my uncommon last name or "sjvn," which I've used on every network known to humanity. On Mastodon, though, you'd need my complete address, @sjvn@mastodon.social The same's true on Diaspora*, where you'd find me at sjvn@diaspora.glasswings.com.

Each network also has its own rules. Some are much more strict than Twitter. Counter.Social, for example, doesn't allow ads, fake news, trolls, or even access if you live in a country known for hosting bots, such as China, Iran, or Russia. 

Generally, other social networks are not centered on short, pithy messages. While Counter.Social limits messages to 500 characters. Others will let you write for as long as you like. Hashtags, which can be very useful on Twitter, don't get as much support on any of the other networks. 

Another problem with many of them is that they're focused on small communities with a single interest. Twitter enables you to follow different people from many areas. For example, while I care a lot about Linux and open-source software, I also care about science fiction, history, and musical theater. On Twitter, I can follow thought leaders in all those areas. On the other networks? Not so much. 

Another difference is that several of these social networks, Diaspora* and Mastodon, run on the Fediverse. The networks are made up of independent servers that are loosely hooked together with the ActivityPub protocol. An excellent way of thinking about these networks is email. No single group runs email. It's a system of common protocols that enables people around the world to connect with each other over different email servers. Some, like Gmail or Outlook, have millions of users, while others have only one user. Regardless, they let you talk to each other. The same is true of the networks on the Fediverse.

That also means each Fediverse site can have its own rules and software. This gives them independence, but it also means they're fragile. If someone wants to close down their Mastodon or Diaspora* instance, your account goes down with them. 

Who owns Twitter?

Elon Musk now owns Twitter after a $44 million purchase and a six-month-long ordeal. However, his leadership has been plagued by disgruntled users who take issue with Musk's free speech policy. The reinstatement of controversial accounts like Donald J. Trump and Kanye West, plus massive layoffs and changes to privacy standards, have left users ready to jump ship as they look for the best alternatives to Twitter. 

That is where these best Twitter alternatives come in.

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