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Social Media in 2023 – which platforms should you be on?

Disillusioned with social media? Disappointed in Twitter’s rollercoaster management, Reddit’s recent self-implosion, or Facebook’s general untrustworthiness? 

Whatever your views on those companies, it’s hard to deny that our online connections are becoming more fractured. For every faux pas from a big tech CEO, there seems to be another new social network on the scene, vying for attention. For those leaving the shores of an online service, it can be difficult to decide where to head next. The smart answer might be: outdoors. But let’s be real, you’re not reading this for advice on fresh air.

Below, you’ll find a one-line elevator pitch for 2023’s biggest social apps and “digital town squares,” both old and new. Something for everybody – with a little luck you might just find a new community to hitch your wagon to. Everyone’s gotta get their dopamine hits somewhere, after all!


Facebook connects friends and family across the globe, and remains one of the best places to host and track public events. But it feels stuffy and is increasingly out of favor with younger generations. Facebook also has a long history of public gaffes, tending to prioritize profits over privacy.


Once heralded as the town square of the internet, Twitter provides real-time updates and trends and is often the best place to discover and discuss breaking news. But since Elon Musk took over in 2022, there has been an exodus of users unhappy with his unpredictable management decisions and abrupt policy changes.


What started as a place to share photos with friends quickly evolved into an algorithm-led content farm packed with ads. It’s still exceedingly popular, with over 1 billion accounts registered, but many users are disillusioned with its push into TikTok-style video content. Like Facebook, Instagram is owned by Meta but run (mostly) independently.


The newest kid on the block, Threads has been pitched by creator Meta as Instagram for words, while the wider world pitches it as a potential Twitter killer, with many of the same features. Meta’s ownership might be problematic for some, but it also gives the platform a huge leg-up in terms of users, with over 10 million people signing up on day one alone.


Reddit is essentially a series of discussion boards, where users follow topics of interest and upvote the best content to the top. Recent board decisions sparked protests from Reddit’s unpaid moderators, who act as a form of quality control for the site. With Apollo sadly gone and the official app lacking features, Narwhal is now the best way to read Reddit.


Until Threads came along, this was arguably the biggest Twitter rival, with a similar layout but an emphasis on decentralization. That means a community-driven form of social media with user-controlled networks. Power to the people. It can be overwhelming to get started, but using the official Mastodon app or Ivory for Mastodon helps.


Like Mastodon, Bluesky is a decentralized form of social media that strongly resembles Twitter in design. Based on the blockchain, Bluesky is co-run by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, meaning it shares some DNA with early Twitter. It’s currently in invite-only beta, so hit up your techy friends to see if they can spare an invite code.


Lemmy describes itself as “a link aggregator for the fediverse,” which to the average person may as well be gibberish. Essentially it’s a community discussion board in the vein of Reddit, based on a free and open platform like Mastodon and Bluesky. You register to a server – or host your own – but can interact with other servers with no issue.


By far the smallest network on this list, Squabbles is a fresh, independent take on social media that aims to combine the best of Twitter with the best of Reddit. That means you can follow users but also have deep discussions on specific topics. If social networks feel too big and faceless, this is a chance to get involved with a genuine, small community in its infancy.

Honorable mentions

We’ve tried to focus (mostly) on text-based social networks, but there are some big names we didn’t mention. TikTok is at the cutting edge of short-form video content, LinkedIn is like Facebook for professional networking, BeReal disrupts the endless newsfeeds with a single daily post, and even Pinterest has some social elements.

For a more nuanced approach to online life, including news and social apps for specific interests, also see our previous guide to filling the Twitter void.