Ever since Elon Musk officially became the owner of Twitter, user experience on the platform has been… interesting. The company has endured massive layoffs, glitches, and scandals, and the also-owner of Tesla and SpaceX has taken it upon himself to manage things from the comfort of his own Twitter polls. Needless to say, some people have had a problem with all this.
Twitter hasn’t imploded (yet), despite predictions its collapse is imminent, but if you don’t want to stay to witness that, you might want a place where you can re-create the pre-Musk Twitter experience.
Well, we checked, and some of the countless available social media platforms do have the potential to feel a bit like Twitter. If you’re thinking about where to set up shop next, these should be your first stops.
Post was in the middle of a private beta phase when Musk took over Twitter, so they rushed to open the platform to receive fleeing users. But the site is not exactly like the bird app, especially in that Post was designed specifically for news gatherers and thread-makers to monetize their content.
People can tip or pay a creator on a post-to-post basis using a point system that translates into money: one point equals one cent. You get 50 points for free upon signing up, but you’ll need to start spending your own money if you want to keep tipping. That’s when the currency conversion gets a little iffy. For example, a bundle of 10,000 points, which should translate to $100, is actually $127 (with a discount, because buying in bulk is cheaper). Logically, that $27 difference goes to expenses like taxes and operational costs, but since we didn’t see any ads in the time we spent there, it’s easy to assume this is one of the ways Post makes money. Even if some of the initial payments go to the platform, Post’s developers say tips go entirely to creators.
Aesthetically, Post looks like a put-together version of Twitter: as soon as you create a profile, you can start scrolling a curated feed that gets refined the more you click and scroll. The interface is clean and the site uses a legible serif font. You can share original content and like and repost stuff from other users, but instead of Twitter-like replies where everything you say is in the form of a new tweet, you can comment the old-fashioned way—publicly, but not showing as a new item on your personal timeline.
Overall, things are generally civil over at Post, and even though you can find a large variety of wholesome content, there’s a lot of politics and journalism from reputable sources going around.
Does Post feel like Twitter?
Sort of, yes. Again, this is a much more civil version of Twitter, so if you like an ounce of chaos on your social media feeds, you won’t find that here. If you’re a journalist, writer, work in media, or have a healthy desire to know what’s going on in the world, you can find informative content on this platform. The downside is that Post is still very niche, so there’s not a lot of dissent or debate. Now, that may be exactly what you want in a Twitter alternative. If it is, you know where to go.
If you never experienced the good ol’ days of peak Tumblr, the best way to understand the platform is to think of it as Twitter’s and Instagram’s forbidden love child. Its design makes it more of a visual-first platform than Twitter, but you can post all sorts of content: text, photos, videos, GIFs, and even audio. You can also interact with posts from people you follow by reposting (retweeting) them and replying to them just like you would on Twitter.
In the beginning and during its heyday, this platform was a haven for women, fandoms, artists, and the LGBTQI+ community, who were free to post all sorts of content. Tumblr’s decline began when Yahoo bought the platform in 2013, but the biggest hit came when Verizon acquired the site in 2017. The telecom company set up stricter community guidelines that purged adult content from the site (including that of an artistic or educational nature), driving a lot of users onto other platforms, like Twitter.
Does Tumblr feel like Twitter?
Yes, sort of. Just like the bird app, Tumblr has a history of dealing with problematic user behavior, but the company has cracked down on a variety of tags and its community guidelines are now not as lax as Twitter’s. Also, you won’t find as many people here, but maybe that’s what you prefer.
With only 143,800 users as of December 2022, Pillowfort is a small social network, and its size might be both a strength and a weakness as a Twitter alternative. The platform launched in 2017, and it became a real option for people who left Tumblr after the Verizon acquisition.
Pillowfort was highly attractive to those users for two main reasons: its interface is similar to Tumblr’s (especially because it gives more space to photos and videos) and community guidelines are more flexible, which is why the platform currently has a thriving fandom community.
The site emphasizes content filtering and giving users the ability to interact with a handpicked group of people. Sign up, and you’ll be able to blacklist bothersome accounts, preventing them from seeing your posts or contacting you in any way—even through reposted content or instant messaging.
Right now, Pillowfort is still in an open beta stage, and new users can only create accounts by paying a one-time $5 fee or by signing up for the waitlist, which promises to send you an invitation code in less than an hour.
If you don’t want to pay or wait, you can take a tour of the platform as a “demo user,” which will give you a pretty good idea of what you’ll encounter if you decide to join.
Does Pillowfort feel like Twitter?
In all fairness, Pillowfort feels a lot more like Tumblr. But since Tumblr is already a bit like Twitter, we think it’s close enough for you to consider it as an alternative. Pillowfort’s user base is still pretty small though, which may be a problem if there’s a highly specific community you want to find there.
With around 118,000 users as of December 2022, Cohost is still a growing social network that feels exactly as if your neighborhood’s food co-op turned into an online platform. The people behind Cohost tout transparency and give users the opportunity to stay informed about what’s going on behind the scenes. You can even request new features.
With an easy-to-use and retro-looking interface, Cohost works a lot like Tumblr, but there’s no algorithm. This means you’ll only see the content from accounts you follow and tags you’ve bookmarked. As an anti-spam measure, new users cannot post or comment until a day or two after opening their accounts, but you can bypass that if you have an invite code from an existing user.
Because there’s no algorithm, the easiest way to find people and posts you’re interested in (and make it easy for other users to find you) is by using tags. Users are encouraged to slap as many as possible onto each post, even if they’re super niche or more of an extra comment than a label.
Cohost also attracts the artistic and LGBTQI+ communities, and has a strong population of Furries. In general, users are nice and respectful, while looking to make friends, show their work, and share humor. A cute extra feature is Cohost’s mascot, Eggbug, a round magenta bug who’s the star of a lot of fan art and merchandise.
Does Cohost feel like Twitter?
Similar to Pillowfort, Cohost is closer to the Tumblr side of the spectrum, but you can definitely see classic Twitter elements. This platform is a great place to be on the internet right now and has grown a lot since Twitter switched hands, but it’s still very niche. You also won’t find a whole lot of diversity on Cohost, as the communities that have made it their home are inclusive but pretty much established.
Mastodon was officially born in 2016, but a lot of people learned about it for the first time after Musk’s bid for Twitter ceased to be a rumor. The platform has become one of the most popular Twitter alternatives, but there’s a major difference: it’s open-source and decentralized. This means that instead of one server or environment where everyone interacts with each other, Mastodon has many and calls them instances. This prevents any one person or company from owning the platform. But it also means you’re more at the mercy of the multiple people who run the servers you join.
People can interact freely with each other at a “federal” level—meaning regardless of what community they belong to—or join more than one server at a time. If you change your mind, the platform allows you to move your entire account, including your followers, from one community to another.
All this makes the Mastodon concept a little difficult to understand upfront, so the learning curve for new users is a bit steeper than for other platforms. Still, the best way to truly see if Mastodon is the Twitter alternative for you is to create an account and dive in head first.
Does Mastodon feel like Twitter?
Definitely. You get two timelines (one local and one “federated”), which can be confusing at first, but the interface is similar to Twitter’s. Another benefit: there seems to be way less toxicity on Mastodon compared to Twitter, so finding your place on the platform may be a gift to your mental health.
If you don’t like cluttered platforms, CounterSocial is not the Twitter alternative for you. Reminiscent of TweetDeck, CounterSocial’s website is organized into columns where you’ll be able to see posts from the community in chronological order, content from the people you follow, and your notifications. You can add columns to follow specific tags and lists, as well.
What makes CounterSocial different from other platforms is its claim to have a zero-tolerance policy for bullies, trolls, ads, and fake news. The network takes this so far that it has completely banned entire countries for being “well known to be origin points of an overwhelming majority of bots and trolls.” The list currently includes Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Syria, and the platform reserves the right to add and remove territories to this list at its own discretion.
CounterSocial (also known as COSO) puts a particular emphasis on news and politics. You’ll see MSNBC’s news ribbon at the top of your screen, and Counter Pro accounts even have access to news video clips on the homepage. Something you won’t see anywhere else is COSO’s current overall network sentiment—you’ll see it in the form of a thermometer at the top of the first column. This tool is constantly taking the pulse of the platform, measuring its level of toxicity. By looking at it you can be sure that people are, indeed, on edge, and it’s not just you.
In terms of community, CounterSocial has a variety of folks sharing things like random thoughts, music, and the latest decal they’ve stuck to their bikes. Still, in the time we spent there, most posts were about politics, and all of them were very clearly from the same blue side of the US political spectrum.
As an added bonus, COSO Pro users ($4.99 a month) get access to Counter Realms, which is a virtual reality iteration of the social network. There, users can create spaces or join those formed by others, and talk to other people using their avatars. If you have a VR set, you can use it in Realms, but if you prefer to keep it old-school, you can also access the platform with only your computer.
Does Counter Social feel like Twitter?
The interface certainly does, and the fact that politics is so prominent on the platform also gives you a whiff of Twitter. At 63 million monthly users, COSO’s still a growing platform, but there doesn’t seem to be trolls or toxicity here. Aesthetically speaking, Counter Social looks like TweetDeck’s and Winamp’s lost baby—which is not necessarily a good thing if you don’t like clutter.
This story has been updated. It was first published on April 27, 2022.