Bluesky gets a big boost as users flee Twitter/X's pay-to-post plans

As Elon Musk proposes charging every Twitter user a monthly fee, tens of thousands of users flee to rival networks

Caricature of Elon Musk
(Image credit: DonkeyHotey / Wikimedia / CC-BY-2.0)

You don't need to use Twitter/X to know when Elon Musk has announced a new, bad idea: you can see the uptick in activity and new users on rival services such as Bluesky and Threads. So when Musk suggested in an interview that he intended to charge every Twitter user, not just Twitter Blue subscribers, there was a noticeable exodus to other social networks.

It looks like Bluesky was the biggest beneficiary of the latest announcement: it gained a massive 53,585 new sign-ups by the end of Tuesday 19 September – which meant that 5% of its entire user base had signed up in just 24 hours. As of Tuesday Bluesky had 1,125,499 users. That's a lot less than X, but it's massive growth for a relatively new social network. Especially one that's still only available via invite codes. It's taken Bluesky four months to crack the million-user mark.

Which service is the new Twitter?

The short answer is probably none of them. Twitter's success is almost certainly unique: it was in the right place at the right time, and it's very unlikely that any single social network will become the "global town square" that Twitter was at its peak. However, that doesn't mean the rival sites won't get big. Threads may be down from its initial new-launch peak, but it still has an estimated 10.3 million daily active users – and the service is still in development with a lot of crucial features still absent, so the activity should increase as they're added. It's also currently unavailable in Europe, which of course is a huge market.      

As for Twitter, Elon Musk's claims of 540 million daily active users and "all time high" records don't seem to match the activity on the site – or in the app stores, where the Twitter/X app is falling rapidly down the rankings. And given that Musk admits that the service is in negative cash flow – presumably one of the reasons he's now openly talking about charging everybody – that doesn't suggest that Twitter is in the best possible place either.

Twitter isn't dead, and while people are leaving in large numbers it's still a huge social network. But it seems that for the time being, Elon Musk is a bigger asset to Twitter's rivals than to the service itself.        

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (