As the race to attract Twitter’s fleeing user base heats up, the competition among potential Twitter rivals intensifies. In a strategic move, T2, a smaller app founded by Twitter and Google veterans, has emerged as a significant contender by introducing a highly sought-after feature that even Meta’s Threads does not yet have – Direct Messages (DMs). With this bold move, T2 has set itself apart from other buzzier Twitter alternatives like Bluesky, Threads, and Mastodon.
The long-awaited DM feature on T2 comes as a response to users’ top requests, making the app stand out in the crowded marketplace. By allowing users to engage in more private conversations within the app, T2 aims to cater to the growing demand for secure and personalized communication on social media.
T2’s DMs differ from some other Twitter competitors in their implementation. While they do not offer end-to-end encryption, T2’s DMs still provide a more private environment compared to regular public posts. However, the company advises users to avoid sharing sensitive information through these DMs and recommends using dedicated privacy apps like Signal or WhatsApp, which prioritize encryption.
The rollout of DMs on July 26th saw a new link added to the app’s sidebar, giving users easy access to the feature. Through the Settings tab in T2, users have the flexibility to control who can DM them. They can choose to enable DMs from anyone on the app, only from accounts they follow, or even turn off the DM feature altogether, giving them complete control over their messaging preferences.
One of the major concerns with DMs is the potential for spam and harassment. To tackle this issue, T2 decided not to encrypt direct messages and instead implemented a nudge system. The system automatically detects possible insults or threatening behavior in the messages and gently nudges the sender to reconsider their message. Past experiences with nudges on Twitter have shown promising results, with a significant portion of users revising their initial replies or refraining from sending offensive messages.
T2’s founders, Sarah Oh, Twitter’s former human rights advisor, and Gabor Cselle, who successfully sold prior companies to Twitter and Google, have emphasized building a platform focused on trust and safety. Their vision is to create a “kinder, safer public square” as an alternative to Twitter’s approach, which has faced criticism for moderation issues.
In contrast, one of T2’s competitors, Bluesky, has seen remarkable success with over a million app installations despite still operating as a private network. However, Bluesky has also encountered challenges with moderation missteps, raising concerns about its commitment to safety and community standards.
With T2’s emphasis on privacy, trust, and safety, the introduction of DMs is expected to attract new users seeking a more secure messaging experience on social media. While the user base currently stands at around 15,000, T2 aims to steadily grow its audience and become a formidable competitor in the Twitter alternative landscape.
In the face of growing competition, T2 has not yet disclosed specific plans for decentralization, which would involve connecting with other social networks through protocols like ActivityPub or Bluesky’s AT Protocol. The company views decentralization as a potential challenge to maintaining moderation standards and building a stable and civil community. Users’ ability to migrate to other servers with less strict rules poses unique challenges for platform governance.
As the battle among Twitter rivals rages on, T2’s introduction of DMs is a significant move that distinguishes it from the competition. By offering users a more private communication option and addressing concerns about spam and harassment through nudges, T2 is positioning itself as a credible alternative for those seeking a safer and more personalized social media experience.