Twitter users flock to other platforms as the Elon Musk era begins

A week ago Elon Musk closed his $44 billion Twitter deal, Cassie LaBelle, a writer who is part of a transgender community on Twitter, started a Discord server. “I don’t know if Musk is going to buy and destroy Twitter or not,” she says wrote, but she hoped her server would be an interesting experiment. In addition, the server could eventually become a safe haven for the transgender community it has cultivated for more than a decade.

“There’s nothing that can replace it,” says LaBelle. “Nobody has what Twitter has.” Before her, Twitter served as a place for trans people to meet, date and post anonymously if they fear harassment or are still investigating their identities and don’t want to share photos or videos. With Musk’s acquisition, LaBelle isn’t going away — she needs the platform for her job — but she’s rebuilding a smaller version of her community in a forum that feels safer.

“Discord isn’t really becoming Twitter,” LaBelle says. “I’ll just grab all the people in my circle and run the other way as fast as I can because we’re being chased by fascists.”

LaBelle is one of many who fear Twitter could be plunged into chaos under Musk’s rule. There’s already harassment on the platform, but one of Musk’s reasons for buying Twitter was to roll back the moderation rules. For people like LaBelle who come from marginalized groups, that feels like an invitation for trolls to spread more hatred and intimidation.

Musk has said he would reinstate former US President Donald Trump and allow any content that does not break the law, though he tweeted today that no major decisions would be made until he convened a council of people with “very divergent views” on moderation. And some Twitter users are planning to flee in protest because they don’t want to give free content to a platform owned by the world’s richest person.

Instead of rushing for the exit and deleting their accounts, many with reservations about Musk’s acquisition are making plans similar to LaBelle’s. They provide information to followers to find them on Discord or Mastodon, a decentralized microblogging platform most similar to Twitter.

Mastodon is already benefiting from speculation about Twitter’s new owner. About 18,000 people signed up for Mastodon accounts between October 20 and 27, said Eugen Rochko, the platform’s CEO. On October 28, it had 381,113 active users. The Mastodon Twitter handle is also widely used on Twitter by people announcing new Mastodon accounts, Rochko says.

Many people tweeting Friday morning under #TwitterMigration said they weren’t ready to leave Twitter completely, but had established Mastodon accounts in anticipation of sweeping changes. Some in academic or tech communities on Twitter post their new Mastodon profiles in their bios or Twitter names. “Looks like #Mastodon is trending on Twitter as more and more people are announcing their new profiles,” the company said. wrote Thursday.

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