(CNN Business) — Elon Musk’s lurid takeover of Twitter has already been marked by mass firings, resignations and the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump’s account, as well as other controversial decisions, leaving many users unsure about the direction of the platform’s future. .
Amid the chaos, several alternatives have reported a surge in new users. The latest to gain widespread momentum is Hive Socialan application that combines some of the familiar elements of Instagram, Twitter and even MySpace, and that, reportedly, was started by a college student who taught herself programming. On Monday, a profanity-laden tweet questioning what Hive was even caught the attention of Musk, who answered with a simple “lmao” (an expression to make fun of).
App analytics firm Sensor Tower confirmed to CNN Business on Tuesday that Hive Social has seen approximately 871,000 installs worldwide, more than a third of which occurred in the last week alone. This week, Hive Social took first place in the social media category on the US App Store.
However, when I tried to download the Hive app on my Apple device, I received a series of errors. First, it had trouble allowing me to sign up via my email address. Then I got a pop up saying my device was locked for “unusual activity”. Despite this, I was able to create an account by giving my phone number. However, the platform does not currently offer two-factor authentication.
What’s on Hive Social
Once I set up my account, I switched to his “Discover” page, where I was immediately greeted with an unexpected image of a completely naked man. (On its basic website, Hive Social says that nudity is allowed, as long as it’s categorized as “NSFW Adult Content.”
The interface is more like Instagram than Twitter: It’s largely image-based, but it also has the option of text-only posts. I had trouble using the search function to find people to follow. Adding to the confusion, I saw quite a few different accounts that all seemed to have the exact same username: over a dozen accounts with a username @Catherine, for example.
I didn’t get any obvious ads or openly spammy accounts as I scrolled through the “For You” tab, which was nice. In general, there was also a strong sense of community building among many of the new users, as people shared tips and advice on how to get started with the app. The main feed, which consists of posts from the people you follow, is chronological, unlike most popular platforms.
Hive Social, which lists just two employees on LinkedIn, did not respond to CNN Business’s requests for an interview or further comment. A Twitter account associated with the app it said on Wednesday that it had been inundated with new user registrations and “email verifications are still down, but Google and Apple login works!” The Twitter account also responded to some troubleshooting requests from Twitter users who were setting up their accounts on the platform in a similar way and facing confusion and glitches.
On your website, Hive Social also outlines goals for maintaining respect in the community. “We remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that maliciously targets private individuals, personal information intended to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated spam,” she says.
“Threats of harm to the public (including threats of physical harm, theft, vandalism, and all forms of financial harm) and personal safety are not permitted,” the website added. “Hive carefully reviews threat reports to determine if a threat is credible.”
Hive’s guidelines are admirable, but an open question remains as to how you’ll be able to maintain your content moderation goals amid a surge in new users. In an interview with Newsweek, Hive founder Kassandra (Raluca) Pop said that only three people (her, a designer, and a developer) run the app. “It’s just the three of us and I think we’re managing pretty well,” she told the outlet. And indeed, for such a small team, the app’s skyrocketing user growth is a remarkable feat.
While the interface was attractive and some of the posts interesting, I became too frustrated by the constant lags and crashes to spend much time on the app just yet. The lack of a web interface also left me unsure how well it will fill a Twitter-shaped hole for those looking for an alternative to the Musk-owned platform.
The difficulty of replacing Twitter
To be fair, Hive started in 2019 and never sought to be a Twitter clone or welcome a sudden influx of disgruntled Twitter users. The founder told Newsweek that she was inspired to create Hive after her own frustration with Instagram’s algorithm and ads.
Hive’s viral rise over the past week, and hiccups associated with other Twitter alternatives like Mastodon (more on that social network here) or Post.News (which currently only accepts new users to join a “Waiting List”) , in many ways they only reveal how difficult it would be to replace a platform that has been widely used by brands, government agencies and more for over a decade.
Beyond Twitter’s unusual set of circumstances, other social media giants are also facing a new reckoning brought on by whiplash in lawsuits and a worsening economic climate. As users and developers face sweeping changes to how social media works, digital rights groups urge that this, too, be a time to regroup and rebuild on past lessons.
“The problems of living under a system dominated by large, unaccountable corporations seemed inescapable. But growth has stalled for these centralized platforms, and Twitter is in the midst of a horrible collapse,” Cindy Cohn and Rory Mir of the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in a blog post. “Our hearts go out to the thousands of workers mistreated or let go by starting players.”
“Major platforms have already screwed it up,” Cohn and Mir added, “but now we have a chance to get it right and build something better.”