Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter, it seems the once-favorite social media site has just come crashing down. It’s sad to see – the fake news and misinformation rampant from paid ‘verified’ accounts, the restoration of formerly banned accounts (they were banned for good reason) and so many other things I can’t more follow. With all of these changes has come a rise in alternatives to Twitter, like the incredibly popular Mastodon.
I prefer something simpler, like the new Hive Social which has been making waves recently. Think of Twitter and Instagram, and what you would get if you combined the two. There’s also a bit of Myspace in there, as you can even add music to your profile page. I’ve been digging around on Hive Social since I joined a week ago, and while I’ve enjoyed my time there, I’ve also noticed a few things along the way.
Hive reminds me of the early days of Twitter
Hive Social is different from Mastodon and reminds me of the early days of Twitter (I’ve been on Twitter since 2007, crazy right?). Once you set up your Hive account and follow some people, the home feed is a simple combination of text and images. So far, according to the people I follow, my home feed has given me a window into my friends’ random thoughts, industry-related posts, Q&As, and photos of food, pets and other fun things.
Although my feed has been a little slow lately, I always come back to Hive, even if not much happens sometimes. It reminded me of the early days of Twitter for me, where people would post random thoughts, what they were doing right now, and pictures of what they had for lunch. So far, there is no drama, no politics, etc. – it’s just “good vibes only” for me so far, and that’s exactly what I need.
Creating a new post is pretty easy too. Posts on Hive can contain an unlimited amount of text, and you can even attach lots of photos and video clips. GIFs are welcome and you can also poll your followers. Right off the bat, you can select who can comment on your post, something that took Twitter years to implement.
Again, Twitter’s early days were pretty rocky – remember the Fail Whale? Right now, Hive is very much reminiscent of that old experience, and I hope to see it improve over time, just like Twitter has. Only without horribly collapsing to the ground.
Simplicity is Hive’s greatest asset
When Mastodon came out a few years ago, I made an account because it was the “hot thing”. But with all the Twitter nonsense, it seems everyone has flocked to Mastodon. I gave it another chance, but I can’t understand how confusing it is as a whole. The servers/instances bit makes it hard for me to find my old Twitter friends if I don’t know what server they signed up on, and I honestly hate how usernames look when you @ someone who isn’t not on the same instance as you. It’s messy, and the fact that each individual server or instance can have its own set of emojis and other little “perks” just makes Reddit or Discord feel like. This is not what I want in my Twitter alternative.
That’s why I enjoy Hive much more than Mastodon – it’s easy.
Unlike Mastodon, Hive is simple – it’s a place where everyone can congregate, just like Twitter. You create your account and have a username, then people can find you, as long as they have your username. Since most people are using the same username online these days, finding your favorite friends or influencers isn’t terribly difficult. There’s no extra nonsense like servers – just search for someone’s username, and if they’re on Hive, they’ll show up. Very easy.
I know there are people who are drawn to Mastodon because it’s decentralized, and for some people that’s exactly what they want. But not me. I just want a place where all my friends hang out, and I can follow them. Having separate servers and so on makes it feel very disjointed. That’s why I enjoy Hive much more than Mastodon – it’s easy.
There is one more plot room for improvement
It looks like Hive is just getting started, and that’s okay. Hive has been around since 2019 and is only run by two people. But with all the Twitter drama, it had an explosive number of new user registrations – around one million in one week.
I noticed that every time I open the Hive app on my iPhone 14 Pro, it takes at least 10 seconds for my home feed to load. That’s assuming it doesn’t just pick up where I left off since last use. I imagine it’s because Hive’s servers weren’t anticipating so many new users so quickly, so things are a little slow because of that – and that’s totally understandable. But I still hope the devs behind Hive add more servers to handle the capacity sooner rather than later.
I also noticed that searching is pretty much useless right now, and somehow the usernames aren’t unique (there are multiple people with the same id). NSFW posts must also be manually tagged each time, so if a user fails to do so, NSFW content may appear in the Discover section whether or not you have chosen to allow it on your account. Content moderation should be seriously considered on the Hive platform because, at the moment, it is obvious that it is non-existent.
The app itself could also be improved. There are inconsistent touch areas when navigating through profiles, and you can’t just tap anywhere on the screen to just close a pop-up menu. On an iPhone, you can’t tap the device’s status bar to get back to the top (pro tip: tap the home stream tab to do this). The Android version of the Hive app is somehow worse, and you need workarounds to do little things like add a profile picture with an existing image on your device. Yeah, it’s really hard, to say the least.
And the biggest problem a lot of people have with Hive is the fact that it’s currently only a mobile app. There is no website or desktop app. Everything about Hive Social is on your iPhone or Android phone. For Hive to be successful, it must be available on devices other than phones and tablets. I sincerely hope the devs work on this because I know a few people who just won’t consider it because of that fact.
I just want pre-Elon Twitter back
I know a lot of people have always hated Twitter, but for me Twitter was more than just a mess all those years ago. I started my career off of Twitter, and I’ve met so many amazing people who I consider friends through Twitter – I’ve even met some in person. It’s also how I share my work with people who may even be remotely interested, and it’s how I find out about the latest news.
It’s hard to start over and stay in touch with the people you care about when everyone is breaking up and going to smaller places.
I try all these “alternatives” to Twitter because a lot of these cool people I’ve met have left for something else. I’ll go where people go, but I’ve been on Twitter for 15 years, getting a small number of followers. It’s hard to start over and keep in touch with the people you care about when everyone splits up and goes to smaller places, rather than one big “town square”.
So far, Hive is the only alternative I’ve actually enjoyed using, but it definitely has a long way to go. I’ll stick with it for now, and hope more people jump on board once it makes some much-needed additions.
At least, you know, until the next big social media option pops up.
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