Is the ‘exodus’ over? This is how Twitter alternatives have fared since Elon Musk’s • AapkaDost acquisition

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Was there a Twitter exodus or just a Twitter hiatus? Did it matter? New data looks at how a range of “Twitter alternatives” have fared in the months following Elon Musk’s takeover of the popular microblogging network, as the number of new installs has dwindled as a result of his takeover. The data indicates that many apps continue to grow to a lesser extent, while other apps have seen a decline in growth. But it also shows that Twitter itself was never significantly affected, at least in terms of new app installs.

Downloads are, of course, just one window into the overall picture. But it’s a measurement that can be assessed independently, using third-party data, rather than relying on companies to report their own metrics — many of which aren’t.

Interest in a group of Twitter alternatives began in late October, when Tesla and SpaceX exec Elon Musk officially closed his $44 billion Twitter acquisition. Constant chaos on the microblogging site has been the rule ever since. Amid controversial policy decisions and sudden changes, some of the Twitter audience decided to turn to other sites to get their social fix — or at least experiment with different options for a while.

In November, Twitter alternatives like Mastodon and established social platforms like Tumblr saw a rapid and significant increase in both downloads and active users, reports show.

Now that the dust has settled — well, Twitter is still chaotic, but we’re used to it now, I suppose — it’s worth checking back in to see how some of these Twitter alternatives are doing today.

The data, compiled for AapkaDost by app intelligence firm, doesn’t provide a comprehensive picture of Twitter’s entire alternative app landscape. For obvious reasons, it doesn’t account for some of the popular but yet to be publicly launched apps that have raised money for their Twitter-like experiences, such as Post, T2, and Spill. For the same reason, it doesn’t include Bluesky, the decentralized alternative Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in the works. Some smaller apps and Trump’s Truth Social are also missing.

However, the company has looked at some of its more formidable challengers to Twitter users’ attention, including Mastodon’s Fediverse-connected app and others.

Recently, a Wired report indicated that Mastodon’s growth spurt was over, as the number of active users had dropped by more than 1 million. They suggested that many Mastodon newcomers decided the app wasn’t a viable Twitter replacement. The platform had grown to 2.5 million monthly active users in two months, up from 380,000, the report said, but it fell to 1.4 million active users in January. However, as Techdirt’s Mike Masnick pointed out, Fediverse as a whole — that is, the group of interconnected servers where Mastodon and other apps reside — had grown from 600,000 active users in the pre-Musk era to about 2.6 today. million. Hardly a breakdown, he said.’s analysis of global app installs on iOS and Android also indicates that Mastodon’s app is still growing, albeit to a lesser extent.

Installs are down quite a bit from November’s peak of 2.9 million monthly downloads. It still managed to rack up 180,000 new installs in January — that’s 169,000 more installs than in September 2022. Sure, it’s not enough to topple Twitter by any means, but it’s not backing down just yet. (Of course, we understand that app downloads don’t equate to active users, as Mastodon’s data shows. Downloads are just a signal of user interest, but many apps never get past the initial launch, if opened at all.)

Mastodon’s mobile traction is more complicated because there’s a wide and growing ecosystem of third-party clients in addition to the web for users to try. A popular alternative to Mastodon’s official app is Ivory, the recently launched client from Tapbots, whose Twitter app Tweetbot was killed by Musk’s Twitter API changes. Ivory is only a few weeks old, so it’s not appropriate for this analysis, but it could have siphoned off some of Mastodon’s downloads for a short period of time during launch.

While Mastodon hangs in there, other Twitter alternatives have seen their download growth stagnate or slow down.

At Reddit and two other politicized alternatives, Tribel and GETTR, download growth has slowed since September 2022. Reddit downloads are down 20,000 since September, while left-wing Tribel and right-wing GETTR downloads are down 36,900 and 42,000, respectively.

To be fair, Reddit is still a huge app, with a whopping 4.2 million new installs in January, up from 4.7 million during its November peak. For this reason, it’s not clear that Twitter’s chaos has had much of an impact on its growth or decline, aside from perhaps a slight increase in installs as people decided to spend their free time elsewhere for a while.

Tribel and GETTR, meanwhile, are not doing very well. The former saw a total of just 1,100 new installs in January, while the latter saw 48,000.

That 48,000 is far more than Hive, another Twitter alternative that quickly gained popularity after Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.

The social app is more of a cross between Myspace, Twitter and Instagram and appealed to a young audience. Hive quickly found itself in the top 20 of the US App Store in November after seeing one million signups, it claimed at the time. But Hive later had to shut down for an extended period of time to rewrite its software due to serious privacy and security concerns.

However,’s numbers seem to support Hive’s claims of a November boost, as it saw 1.1 million new installs that month, compared to just 300 (!!) the previous month. Hive is still growing, albeit only slightly. It had 10,700 more installs in January than it did in September 2022 – but that’s only because it only had 300 installs that month (as it did in October).

Two other apps that many believed would benefit from the Twitter turmoil were Tumblr and Discord.

It turned out that Twitter’s changes didn’t seem to play a role in the latter’s growth or decline. In fact, Discord’s installs dropped from 8.3 million in October 2022 to 8.0 million in November, while the other apps boomed. The number of installations then grew again to 8.5 million in December and to 9.7 million last month. As with Reddit, this move doesn’t seem to reflect a bump from a Twitter exodus or a drop in newcomers who later left the service. Discord is fine on its own.

However, Tumblr’s numbers are more interesting. The company itself reported to have gained some traction over the Twitter exodus. Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic — whose company acquired Tumblr from Verizon in 2019 — told The Atlantic that Tumblr iOS downloads jumped 62% the week after Musk acquired Twitter.

Looking at the combined data from iOS and Android, as the numbers from do, there is definitely a bump in November. Tumblr received 880,000 new downloads in November, up from 450,000 and 500,000 in September and October, respectively. That trend has since normalized, though Tumblr is still slightly above its previous baseline, with 510,000 installs in December and 480,000 in January. The company also made waves in November when Mullenweg announced that Tumblr would soon add support for ActivityPub, the decentralized social networking protocol that powers the Fediverse.

Finally, regarding Twitter… have you heard the phrase “any press is good press?”

It seems that Twitter has benefited from the increased attention – or perhaps from the rubbernecking.

Global mobile app installs increased by 3.7 million in January compared to September 2022. Installs on Twitter, in particular, did not decline in November. Instead, it started getting new downloads even as some of its users seemed to be leaving for other apps. In other words, any Twitter exodus may have been offset by new Twitter arrivals. Active user data would tell a better story here, but Twitter is no longer a public company and it’s not clear Musk is analyzing user data as Twitter had previously done, which would allow direct comparison. But his claims of a wave of sign-ups in November could be on the verge of truth, as there were more app installs in the month than in October. found that Twitter grew from 16.6 million installs in October to 18.6 million in November when Musk took over, then dropped to 16.9 million in December. Last month it jumped back again to 18.6 million installs. That means it has the same 24.8% download growth as in November.

Meanwhile, the broader range of Twitter alternatives drove downloads growth by 35.6% in November, before falling to 8.1% in January.

As it turns out, there’s no real winner yet in terms of Twitter alternatives.

Larger apps like Reddit, Discord, and Tumblr still have significant user bases and will continue to grow, but they haven’t exactly carved out a portion of Twitter’s user base for themselves. Smaller apps got stranded or returned to normal.

If anything, the biggest boost to the wider ecosystem depends on the new user awareness of the Fediverse and Mastodon, even if the app hasn’t transformed into a dominant force. Fediverse growth could ultimately be a trend that extends beyond just a few months after Twitter’s acquisition, as more apps join the decentralization movement.

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