Twitter alternative T2 launches new verification program and hires chief technical officer Discord as CTO

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As Twitter begins to transition to a “pay to play” business model, a new Twitter alternative is preparing to take off. T2, the seed-funded Twitter rival developed by Google and Twitter veterans, is poised to capitalize on Twitter’s turmoil with the launch of a verification program specifically aimed at those on the verge of losing their tick under Elon Musk’s new Twitter policy. T2 is also today announcing a notable new hiring with the addition of Discord’s former Senior Director of Engineering Michael Greer as its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Greer joined Discord in 2017, initially as Director of Engineering, touching on a number of areas including revenue, growth, apps, community servers, design systems, messaging, and more. Last June, he was promoted to senior director of engineering. Prior to Discord, Greer served as CTO at Tapp Media and The Onion for several years.

At T2, Greer will now oversee the development team and guide the company’s technical growth.

“Michael’s deep experience in news, entertainment and social platforms aligns perfectly with our vision for T2,” said T2 co-founder Gabor Cselle, who sold his previous businesses to Twitter and Google before starting T2. “At The Onion and Tapp, he and his teams built platforms that generated engagement from millions of users. At Discord, he directed his teams to create tools that have successfully maintained safety and civility — even in high-energy, rough communities,” Cselle added.

Development of T2 has moved fairly quickly, with the first lines of code not committed until November 2022, and then the first external funding was raised in January with a $1.1 million seed round. While there are a number of Twitter alternatives now gaining traction in the wake of Elon Musk’s chaotic takeover of Twitter, one of T2’s biggest differentiators is its co-founding team.

Cselle previously sold his Y Combinator-backed email startup reMail to Google and his second company, native ads startup Namo Media, to Twitter. Meanwhile, Sarah Oh was Twitter’s former human rights adviser and has a wealth of experience, including time spent on Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica-focused crisis team.

Oh says she was intrigued by “the opportunity to center a new platform that was simple and elegant around trust and security.”

“I found it so appealing to start from scratch — building in all the lessons from the last five to 10 years,” she explained to AapkaDost in a chat ahead of today’s announcements.

“On the rules side, I think there is a lot of room for growth and closing the enforcement gap,” Oh continues. “We have very clear rules about which we’re starting to consult with our communities and users – whether people think these rules are in the right place, where maybe we should be a little bit more aggressive or less aggressive… But we’re very optimistic about being very upfront about what we expect on the platform,” she added.

This clarity will also help T2 with moderation as it scales, which includes both human review and AI.

At first glance, however, T2 as of today looks a lot like a stripped-down Twitter clone. The currently web-only app has a similar interface to Twitter for writing short messages, adding a photo, posting replies, and reposting or favorite content. There is also a highly visible reporting mechanism indicated by a flag icon below each post. Like Twitter, T2 uses the same follower/follower model for building a network of people whose posts you want to see in your timeline. (As an early tester, I was surprised to find that T2 automatically followed people for me — something it said it did to seed people’s initial networks.)

Despite its still messy nature — T2 isn’t even the startup’s final name, apparently it’s just a placeholder — the company is moving forward to expand its user base. T2 has started testing the use of community invites with different groups, we are told. Once the startup better understands how and why invites are distributed by users — and the success rates those invites have in terms of bringing in new members — access will expand. This will probably be in one or two months.

“We know people want to feel instantly connected to their friends and colleagues on a new social media platform,” says Oh. “We are currently testing and rolling out community invites, which allow people to connect to their existing personal networks and welcome them to T2. We are currently testing with different types of users from different cohorts. Once we have a clearer idea of ​​what works best, we will roll out the feature more widely,” she noted.

Image Credits: T2 screenshot

In the short term, T2 will introduce a new verification process with the launch of the “Get the Checkmark” program, timed to coincide with Twitter’s removal of obsolete verification checkmarks for all users who do not pay for the Twitter Blue subscription. Twitter said the de-checking will begin April 1, which will include de-verifying organizations and individuals previously qualified as “notable” under the company’s previous rules. In addition, T2 users who hold an obsolete checkmark can claim their T2 checkmark by filling out this form.

Image Credits: T2

T2 believes this is an ideal opportunity to cater to Twitter’s dissatisfied users. Before April 1 (or when Twitter actually removes verified checks), T2 will verify its own users if they previously had Twitter verification. The company says Twitter’s old process required people’s identities to be verified, so it will continue to honor those checks on T2. These “Twitter legacy” T2 checks also have little ruffles.

Twitter accounts may have been verified if they were a business, non-profit organization, journalist, leader or executive, a person in entertainment, a person in sports, a content creator, or any other public figure or notable person.

After Twitter removes its legacy checkboxes, T2 will switch to a new verification flow. While the app is now small and tested in closed tests, that means you’ll need to chat directly with a T2 rep. (A process that would make it very difficult for bots to get verified!) Later on, T2 plans to scale up this verification using in-app identity and selfie checks. These are referred to as “T2 Authenticated” profiles.

While T2 remains in closed beta testing, the company has been slowly inviting people to join its “five-digit” waiting list and has now started offering its community members invitations that they can hand out to others. The plan is to trial invites with a few more communities before a wider rollout begins.

In addition to these changes, T2 has also revamped its logo and introduced its own version of Twitter’s long-lost “failed whale,” which appeared when the site went down. On T2 it will instead be a “failed slug” (see below). The app’s UI has also been polished, with new iconography beyond the logo and other changes to make it a better experience for end users.

Image Credits: T2

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