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There are a lot of Twitter competitors on the rise now. Probably due to all the drama Elon Musk is causing.

I initially really liked Twitter and the concept behind it. Things over the years have changed. I still think there is a lot of potential behind it. But my biggest concern about Twitter is that it’s mostly a platform, in my experience, for celebrities. It may be a result of the algorithm or just the nature of people obsessed with celebrities and wishing to become famous themselves.

I didn’t leave because of Elon Musk.

Many people are leaving just because of the drama Elon Musk is causing. The issues I have with Twitter started much earlier than that. I like the concept behind Twitter. But I started experiencing Twitter was more and more becoming centered around celebrities. And people just weren’t interested in interacting with you if you weren’t famous. This left me with a bad taste.

And to get verified the same thing, you would need to be a public figure (which, to me, defeats the entire purpose), and on top of that, the entire platform’s business model, like Meta/Facebook, is centered around ads. That means a less-than-stellar user experience, and me being tracked a lot. So Twitter became less and less interesting for me.

Despite the drama, what Musk is doing right

This will not be a popular opinion. But I don’t think everything done with Musk in the lead is bad. People tend to default to being negative without even considering the positives (but this does not mean I approve of some of the bad things he’s doing, like how he fired people and the back and forth on certain things). Some of the things he is trying to eliminate (that people conveniently seem to turn their cheek to):

  • Eliminate bots
  • Protect free speech
  • More balanced ad algorithms
  • Paid tier to skip ads altogether

These are just some of the things. And he also seems to ask the crowd now and then about what they think is most important to improve. I have a lot of respect for that.

What do the new competitors get wrong (too much focus on tech and not user experience), and why they will fail to attract users

In this, many new startups are popping up trying to be the next Twitter “killer”. They are either trying to clone Twitter or focusing on some new innovative protocol. I love new tech. But they are missing out on a fundamental part of the equation. The user experience! None of them talk about what this means for the users. Why should I leave Twitter when my entire follower base and friends are there? For a new immature platform that doesn’t even have half the features Twitter has built for years.

The brutal truth is no one cares about the amazing underlying technology if it isn’t reflected in the user experience. We know this through Facebook and Instagram. It’s becoming common knowledge that Meta’s products cause harm to mental health and has a huge negative impact on society (Cambridge Analytica etc.). Still, people are using it.

What Mastodon (and the ActivityPub protocol) does right from a user perspective

When I started looking for an alternative platform, I discovered Mastodon. And in researching Mastodon, I learned about the ActivityPub protocol and the Fediverse concept. The more I learn about it, the more fascinating I think it is. The Fediverse doesn’t end with Mastodon; other platforms are built on the same protocol, like Peertube (similar to youtube) and Pixelfed (like Instagram). And the magic with these platforms being on the same protocol, they can communicate with each other.

This means for Mastodon that there can be several communities and servers that all can have their own set of rules with their own admins. And all the servers can still communicate with each other (if the server doesn’t choose to exclude another server). I, for example, am currently on the “” server. But I’m considering the idea of creating my server in the near future.

Rise of Vero – true social

I am a big fan of what they are doing with Vero. At first glance, Vero is an Instagram competitor. I think it’s much more than that. The Vero team has done a great job of identifying what it means to be social. It has been hugely popular amongst photographers, musicians (they also have their record label, it seems), and artists. Images and videos have a high and crisp quality, and the UI/UX design is fresh. You can also share links, books you read, movies you watch, games you play, etc.

This is a great example of how you put the user experience first. They also put a lot of emphasis on mental health (Vero was pretty much a reaction to the nature of being ad-driven, which resulted in a service that tried to make people addicted to the platform).

Final thoughts

Mastodon (well, the ActivityPub protocol) and Vero are great examples of how you innovate in the social space. There’s a lot of talk about the Nostr protocol, and Damus and people rave about a revolution coming. The only marketing card I can see making a huge impact is the name Jack Dorsey (the Twitter co-founder and former CEO). I don’t think that’s enough.

What they are missing in that conversation is, sounds great, but what does that mean for the user? So far, I’ve only heard things that tech-savvy people care about. And as long that is the case, Damus and Nostr won’t see mass adoption, I suspect. This is what both Mastodon and Vero understood. A user experience that matters comes first.

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