So he finally went and did it.

On Friday, Elon Musk closed on his on-again, off-again flirtation with the idea of purchasing Twitter as a private asset. He wasted no time in sacking most of the executive leadership team. And stories are now emerging that he’s asking software engineers to print out their code and be prepared for him to come to their desk to personally review code with him.

He’s also doubled down on his suggestions that he will undo permanent lifetime bans on people like Donald Trump. These bans were put into place to make Twitter a safer place, and Musk is signalling that’s not his priority.

On Twitter, with its business model being focused on delivering ads, the users are not the customers; the users are the product. It’s a dirty bargain that fuels so much of the Internet these days. But I’m so fundamentally opposed to how Musk intends to run Twitter that I have chosen to abandon the platform.

Before deciding what’s next, it’s worth thinking about that devil’s bargain. Do I just want to hop to yet another site where I am the product, and the focus will be delivering ads to my eyes but giving me just enough dopamine hits to have me staying and doom scrolling?

It turns out, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Fediverse

There is a whole social media subculture rising up that’s worth a look. The Fediverse is a nickname for a loose federation of tiny social media sites that share content with one another through open standards. A small group of friends could run a fediverse service just for themselves, but still maintain contact with the broader world by federating with other services.

One of the most mature options in this space, and indeed the one that most directly compares with Twitter, is Mastodon. Mastodon will seem familiar to Twitter users, but with caveats (some small, some quite substantial). Instead of tweets we have toots, and instead of retweets we have boosts.

We do have hashtags, but they are a much more powerful thing on Mastodon. Unlike with Twitter, you can actually follow hashtags on Mastodon. Sort of. It depends on what client software you’re using. But because Mastodon uses open standards, there are a variety of clients you can use.

You can’t really search for words across the fediverse, but you can search for hashtags. So hashtags become the main way to find people and conversations you care about.

I opened my Mastodon account when Musk first started getting serious about his purchase, and I removed Twitter from my devices entirely shortly after the purchase was completed. I’m no longer active on Twitter.

Find me on Mastodon.

Then, find a Mastodon instance that appeals to you, set up an account there, and give it a go.