How to Walk Away From Twitter

Let’s get the obvious out of the way; this bites. Twitter has been a major part of interacting with the world for more than a decade. There are a lot of reasons to want to stay there. Some of them are just little dopamine hits, but some of them are friends, news, and fun. So. This bites.

But Twitter isn’t a town square. It’s a company. And that company has been bought by a petty billionaire who may or may not be on a mission to put chips in everyone’s brains, and his ego is manifesting in ways that have destroyed the platform. Journalists are banned. Criticism is banned. Links to other social media made by people trying to flee are banned. Let me know when this starts sounding like an extremely weak cyberpunk dystopia to you. I’m ~50% certain at this point that Elon Musk is deliberately destroying Twitter out of spite for being forced to go through with buying it, but the result is the same either way.

So it’s time to walk away.

But you don’t wanna.

Let’s try some things:

  • Make an alternative. You don’t have to nuke your Twitter to do this; you’re just creating a different place you can go. Spend a little time there adding people you like and looking for people you already know. I’m using a Mastodon instance called eldritch.cafe (which the first 50 people can join with my invite link if a queer left flavor of server sounds good to you), but you can go wherever you want. This is the thing that Twitter is trying to stop you from doing, so now it’s more important than ever that you aren’t a captive of the hellbird. You can read about alternatives like Mastodon and Hive. If you choose Mastodon but you’re having trouble picking a server, remember that you can migrate your account to a different server later, and unless one server has blocked another, all servers can see each other, so you’re not limited to interacting with the community you pick.
  • Move the Twitter app icon off the home screen on your phone. Delete the bookmark in your browser. Make it one extra step for yourself to go there. Having to take that step will at least make sure you’re making a deliberate choice.
  • Use some of the tools you have to protect yourself from Twitter while you still can. Delete your phone number, if you gave it to them. Remove your real name, if it’s on there. There are arguments about deleting old tweets, but I’m doing so using Semiphemeral because I don’t want to keep them there are provide content, even if it’s old. Twitter has just banned all links to external social media platforms, but you might still be able to find some of your friends and port them over to Mastodon using a tool like FediFinder before the Twitter banhammer comes down.

You don’t have to delete your account. In fact, you probably shouldn’t, because that would free up your username for someone to impersonate you. You can change your name to Permanent Hiatus, or change your profile picture to all black (my favorite one I saw was a Spirit Halloween banner) and just leave the account there to collect dust.

If Elon Musk sells Twitter, maybe we can go back. Even if I feel like the Lorax for saying it. It’s possible.

But if nothing else, this whole thing should teach us that it’s good to have a back-up plan. Start on yours today.

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