The Tumblr mobile app is seen on a mobile phone. (Photo: Reuters)
NEW YORK: Michele Catalano had mostly positive memories of Tumblr. When she joined the platform in 2009, two years after it launched, it was a fledgling microblogging site with a friendly atmosphere, she said, and a sense of community.
“I made so many friends,” Catalano said. “Everyone got along. It was creative. We saw couples come together and get married.” Like many users, however, over time she found herself migrating to Twitter, eventually quitting Tumblr altogether a few years ago. After billionaire Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter in October, Catalano, 60 years old, decided to join his former watch.
The welcome was not warm.
“I made two posts and then I checked my dashboard and I kept seeing posts about how people on Twitter are coming in and it’s going to ruin the community,” she said. . “It was hostile. I was like, I don’t need that vibe at all.
With Twitter’s future uncertain, some users have started researching new platforms like Mastodon, a decentralized, open-source networking service, or have returned to mainstays like Instagram with renewed enthusiasm. Tumblr, now owned by Automattic, has also taken the opportunity to woo new users, posting a Twitter thread this month with a list of “reasons to join Tumblr.” Recently, the platform gained at least one high profile defector when actor Ryan Reynolds announced he would be leaving Twitter for Tumblr.
Tumblr seems to be seeing an increase in new users. In a tweet, company CEO Matt Mullenweg reported a 58% increase in iOS app downloads from Tumblr and a 57% increase for Android users in the first week of November. (On Nov. 1, Tumblr changed its community guidelines to allow nudity on the platform, which may have also contributed to the rise.) And Tumblr users say they’re seeing long-silent blogs come back to life after years of dormancy or new ones springing up.
Automattic declined to comment on Tumblr user numbers beyond scoring The New York Times to Mullenweg’s tweets.
Some Tumblr veterans treat potential mass migration as a threat. After Reynolds’ announcement, Tumblr was flooded with hashtags like #TwitterExodus and #TwitterApocalypse. Some longtime users have posted viral messages informing new users of the site’s standards, including tips on how to manage the “dashboard” or Tumblr feed, for example. But others were more concerned, warning others about what could happen to the community if brands, celebrities and other unwanted Twitter refugees encroached.
Dana Reback, a market researcher in Los Angeles who has been an active Tumblr user since around 2011, said Tumblr veterans worry that new users will bring back some of the internal conflicts and upheavals users experienced in previous ones. iterations of the platform, especially before the site banned adult content in 2017 and caused its own mass exodus.
“There were arguments all the time,” said Reback, 30. Now, however, “much of that culture seems to have shifted to Twitter,” she said.
Still, Reback, who primarily uses her Tumblr account to post fanfiction, says she and others on the platform welcome new Twitter users — as long as they understand they’re in territory already. established. Tumblr users have developed their own lexicon and etiquette – hashtags, for example, play a bigger role on Tumblr than on Twitter. There is no public follower count and reblogs (similar to retweets) are essential to increase visibility and support other creators on the platform. “Likes,” one user warned, may work more like bookmarks than mentions.
“Going in and observing space and not trying to make it feel like the place you left, but appreciating it for the place it is, is always valuable when you migrate somewhere,” he said. she stated.
Sydney Reynolds, 22, is no longer on Tumblr, but in her viral TikToks on the platform, she positions herself as an unofficial Tumblr historian. The videos are meant both to educate those unfamiliar with the platform’s lore — why, for example, young adult writer John Green was ousted from the Tumblr community — and to share the nostalgia with others. Tumblr alumni.
TikTok app logo displayed on a smartphone. (Photo: Reuters)
While Twitter has mainstream appeal, Tumblr has long been a haven for fandoms, she explained, appealing to a niche user base that includes fan fiction writers, artists, actors and celebrities. other creatives.
She said Tumblr felt like a safe space where you could organize a creative, like-minded community. Twitter, she said, is more like a “sink.”
“I was this creative kid who didn’t have a lot of friends, and I found this place where I could write and where I could be weird,” she said. If she was still on the platform during a migration to Twitter, she would “feel overwhelmed,” she added, though she plans to return to Tumblr if Twitter collapses.
Reback and others noted that Tumblr users seemed more wary of the influx of high-profile users like Reynolds, who could make the platform more corporate and less comfortable for the fandoms that populate it. (Although fantasy writer Neil Gaiman is a longtime Tumblr darling.)
But they are not yet sure that there is cause for concern. The differences between Tumblr and Twitter may prevent the former from truly replacing the latter. Twitter has long been a platform where celebrities, brands, journalists and other public-facing entities thrive. Tumblr, with its aforementioned lack of followers, generally anonymous user base, and emphasis on collective user experience rather than individual success, is not the kind of place that amplifies personalities. That’s a big part of Tumblr’s appeal to many.
“There’s a motto on Tumblr that brands and celebrities and so on, they just don’t make it on platforms like Tumblr,” said Kristen Lee, 30, an illustrator and webcomic artist who posts work on Tumblr under the handle @feathernotes. “It’s hard to be an ‘influencer’ on Tumblr because you don’t have access to information that would make you look like a big deal. It’s something that doesn’t translate as well as it does on Instagram or TikTok.
Still, even non-celebrities might find Tumblr’s setup too distinct from Twitter to serve as a successor. Leah Marilla Thomas, 34, a freelance entertainment journalist and anonymous Tumblr user since 2009, recently created a public account on the platform to share her work in anticipation of Twitter’s demise. “It’s not very conducive to sharing articles, which I think a lot of people I know would migrate to do,” she said.
If this is the end for Twitter, Catalano says she probably won’t try Tumblr again. “If Twitter crashes, I’m free,” she said. “If there’s an opportunity for me to step away from social media, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Catalano said those trying to keep access seemed to have forgotten the purpose of the platform: “It’s a social media website, and people go crazy that other people can join,” she said. “It’s absurd.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.