Twitter is changing, but Gen Z has already moved on – The Philadelphia Inquirer

“People my age would rather send each other someone’s newest embarrassing Instagram story post or viral TikTok than deign to look at some weird quote they put on Twitter.”
Elon Musk now owns Twitter, one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms, and he’s quickly putting his stamp on it. Changes are underway. But young people say they don’t care — they don’t use the app, anyway.
The tech billionaire purchased Twitter for $44 billion after months of back-and-forth and a legal battle. Now, he is promising overhauls.
Musk’s plans include mass layoffs — which are already underway — and, according to the Washington Post, scalebacks on the app’s content-moderation system. Twitter’s content-moderation system worked to prevent or lessen harmful rhetoric and hacks on the platform. Musk champions himself as a “free speech absolutist.” An uptick in racist content on the app has been seen since Musk took the helm.
Other potential changes include reversing bans on accounts, including former President Donald Trump’s, and charging users for verification — the blue checkmark that indicates authenticity for celebrity, personality, media, and brand accounts.
The changes are attracting attention and scrutiny, especially as the midterm elections loom. Musk’s intentions to scale back content moderation before Election Day have media experts worried about the potential spread of misinformation.
But Julia Green, 20, and others her age say they aren’t concerned.
Green, who attends Emory University, regularly uses apps including Instagram, TikTok, BeReal‚ and Snapchat. She’s gone viral on TikTok a few times for participating in different trends. But she doesn’t use Twitter anymore.
“I found out about Elon Musk buying Twitter [and considering] allowing Donald Trump and [Ye] back on it through a New York Times Instagram post,” she said. “My mindset is that every tweet I’d want to see will probably end up on Instagram or TikTok eventually, so I’m not missing out on much.”
Her approach to Twitter mirrors national trends for young people’s use of the app.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, the majority of U.S. teens do not use Twitter. The number who do has decreased by 10 percentage points in the last seven years. In contrast, the number of teens using Instagram has increased by 10 points in the same timeframe.
“None of my friends were ever big Twitter users,” Green said. “If they were, I’d probably still use the app in some capacity. But from what I’ve seen, no one my age or in my circle really uses it or cares about it.”
Pew Research trends show that YouTube remains king for younger audiences. TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are also popular.
Facebook usage has been dying out among young audiences, on a steady decline over the last decade. But even Facebook touts more popularity among Gen Z than Twitter, the Pew study found.
“People my age would rather send each other someone’s newest embarrassing Instagram story post or viral TikTok than deign to look at some weird quote they put on Twitter,” Green said.
Of course, that’s not to say no Zoomers are active on Twitter. Groups such as Gen Z for Change and Voters of Tomorrow use Twitter to organize and garner support. But the groups also have large followings on Instagram and TikTok.
Philadelphia-based TikTok creators 2rare, Zahsosaa, Lay Bankz, Jabril, and the Philly Goats are all part of a friend group of young Black creators who have built large individual followings. Combined, the creators have established a following on TikTok of more than 2.5 million. But none of them appears to be particularly active on Twitter.
2rare, a 23-year-old rapper, was signed by a label last month and is promoting new music. He has no apparent Twitter account. Lay Bankz, 18, is a Southwest Philly native with more than 1 million followers on TikTok. Sometimes, she posts multiple times in one day. On Twitter, her account is dormant. She follows one person and has posted 19 times since starting her account.
Green says she’s not surprised by the inactivity among people her age.
“I’ve been on social media long enough to see the transition. [An] app becomes a thing, people download it and love it, app is deleted or implements updates that people don’t like, a new app pops up to replace it, everyone moves on,” she said.
Some Twitter users are already searching for an appropriate replacement app.
According to the Washington Post, Mastodon — an open-source app that has been informally billed as a less toxic Twitter — saw a surge in users since the news of Musk’s purchase developed. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder and former CEO, also announced a waitlist was live for his new social media company, Bluesky.
“I think it’s the natural order of the internet to find a new space for a new niche if the old one isn’t working,” Green said. “If Twitter truly goes ‘coco for coco nuts’ [young-person speak for unhinged], some other app that’s very similar will just replace its existing function.”


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