The news from Twitter continues to go from bad to worse: the firm's head of trust and safety, who's responsible for content moderation and user safety, has quit after apparently being overruled by Elon Musk regarding hate speech. Research by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that Twitter apparently ignores hate speech if it's posted by Twitter Blue users, and the climate is so toxic that big brands such as Ben & Jerry's have pulled their ads from Twitter altogether.
If Twitter were a boat, it'd be the Titanic – with Musk deliberately crashing into the iceberg to own the libs. But the lifeboats we've seen so far don't seem to be up to the job: despite recent improvements and at least one great app Mastodon still feels a bit too techy for the average Twitter evacuee, while the Twitter-a-like Bluesky's policy of only letting users invite one new person a fortnight means it remains off-limits to most.
But there's smoke on the horizon, and it's coming from the most unlikely place: Meta. The HMS Instagram could be the rescue vessel we need.
Smoke on the water
Instagram is working on a Twitter clone, and a leaked Substack newsletter seen by The Verge suggests it'll launch this month. And if it does, it's likely to be the Twitter killer that other services have promised but haven't delivered. It'll use your existing Instagram profile and following/followers list, and it'll exist inside the app to deliver a Twitter-like feed for people who want it without ruining the Instagram experience for those who don't.
There are tons of reasons to criticise Instagram and its parent, Meta. But one thing I can say about Instagram is that I don't have to block roughly a quarter of a million people, including actual neo-nazis, to make it usable. I do on Twitter, and I'm still subjected daily to the witless mutterings of clowns who shouldn't be allowed cutlery, let alone computers.
But for as long as the people I want to hear from and talk to are on Twitter and not on a different, safer social network, I'm stuck with a social network I actively despise and which, as I'm reminded daily, is particularly popular with people who despise me. So right now I'm bobbing around in shark-infested water and I don't really care too much about who's throwing me a rope.
But timing matters too. Mastodon missed its moment: when people went to check it out, it wasn't ready. Bluesky looks like it'll miss its moment too if it doesn't open up invitations pretty shortly. If Instagram gets its timing right, it could sail into the sunset while Twitter heads for the ocean floor.