A Race to the Throne Amidst Twitter’s Downward Spiral
As Twitter propels itself towards self-destruction, pouring gasoline on its own flames, the digital landscape is transforming into a hectic battleground, filled with emergent social platforms grappling to fill its place.
Many have tried to seize the throne – Twitter Ex-CEO Jack Dorsey’s BlueSky, Christopher Bouzy’s Black-owned platform Spoutible, and even Meta’s much-anticipated Twitter alternative, slated for a summer launch.
Yet despite these promising contenders, no successor has managed to capture the popular imagination or reach the crucial tipping point of user adoption.
Musk’s decision to throttle the number of daily tweet views was a profound misstep, one that triggered a flurry of responses from the Twitter community – and sparked increased urgency for users in their search for a new real-time social platform.
“To address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation, we’ve applied the following temporary limits: verified accounts are limited to reading 6,000 posts [per] day, unverified accounts to 600 posts [per] day, [and] new unverified accounts to 300 [posts per] day,” Musk tweeted about in an attempted justification for the policy change.
Since Musk took over Twitter following a $44 billion deal in October 2022, the platform has been marred by a series of outages and botched policy changes, in addition to a proliferation of bots, disinformation, blatant and vicious racial violence, misogyny and transphobia.
A Rising Phoenix from Twitter’s Ashes
Spill, the Black-owned, visual-forward social app is rapidly gathering the collective imagination of the Black Twitter diaspora, left in the wake of Twitter’s self-destruction.
Created by Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell, Twitter’s former global head of social and editorial, — and Devaris Brown — a former product manager lead at the company, Spill continues to trend #1 on Twitter as Black users are rapidly migrating to the platform.
According to Tech Crunch, Spill’s team includes former Twitter design chief Dantley Davis, #OscarsSoWhite creator and DEI advocate April Reign and civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson.
Released in its Beta version in January and currently operating on an invite-only basis, Spill prioritizes eradicating hate speech that targets Black users. In place of tweets, we now have “spills”, underpinning an app rich with meme culture, a quintessential aspect of Black Twitter.
Many users are also joking about wanting invite codes (currently the only way to get on the platform is if someone sends you an invite code), and that the codes should only be reserved for Black people
A Flight to Black-Owned Social Platforms
Terrell spoke with passion about the vision behind Spill, explaining in an interview with AfroTech how the platform is designed to cater to Black women and other marginalized groups who face disproportionate hate online.
“From a fact-based standpoint, let’s talk about Black women. They over-index on social and media consumption by like 40% over any other identity group in this country… Setting all the trends and all of that is part of that, but also getting way more hate than any other group. It’s actually insane, when you actually look at it statistically.”
Terrell continued, “Everybody who’s in Black Twitter or any of these other communities knows that it’s powered by Black women. Setting all the trends and all of that is part of that, but also getting way more hate than any other group. It’s actually insane, when you actually look at it statistically. And then just any marginalized group. If you’re queer, you’re in certain, historically targeted groups overseas, it’s awful to be online and be on social.”
A New Dawn for Black-Led Initiatives in Tech
With its foundations firmly set, Spill is eyeing the horizon, aspiring to be the first Black-owned social media platform to reach unicorn status. Not just for the prestige, but to shatter the glass ceiling that has historically hindered Black entrepreneurs in the tech industry.
With Spill, Terrell aims to craft a new narrative, where Black-led initiatives transform industries, break boundaries, and lead the charge towards a future where technology is as diverse as the people it serves.
Terrell added, “Our thesis was if we could build a platform from the ground up that caters to these groups, these culture drivers, and then solve the core problems that they’re facing, that our community is facing more specifically, that would make for a better experience for everyone…It’s really important to have different perspectives building these platforms now.”