The Exodus from X: Why Researchers are Migrating from Musk's Platform

Recent data has illuminated an alarming trend for the newly rebranded social media platform, X (previously known as Twitter).

by Faruk Imamovic
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The Exodus from X: Why Researchers are Migrating from Musk's Platform

Recent data has illuminated an alarming trend for the newly rebranded social media platform, X (previously known as Twitter). Notably, there has been a sizable exodus of users, especially from within the scientific community.

But what are the underlying reasons for this shift?

A Mass Movement to Alternatives

Earlier this year, Pew Research astutely highlighted a decline in Twitter's active user base after Elon Musk's acquisition. Fast forward a few months, and the journal Nature corroborates these findings but offers a more nuanced perspective.

A survey they conducted, involving an impressive 9,200 researchers, tells a tale of dissatisfaction and migration. An astounding 47% of those researchers admitted to curbing their time on X, with almost 7% deserting the platform altogether.

The quest for alternative platforms to voice their insights and share knowledge seems to be a dominant theme. Nearly an equivalent number have taken the initiative to create profiles on new platforms within the past year. Mastodon, an open-source platform, has emerged as a frontrunner, garnering the attention of almost half the research community.

This uptick coincides with Musk's takeover of Twitter, suggesting a correlation. While LinkedIn and Instagram follow closely, interestingly, Meta's Threads finds its way to the fourth position in popularity—remarkable considering its recent launch.

A Historically Significant Platform, Now Altered

Twitter has traditionally been a vibrant hub for the scientific community. For years, it functioned as a conduit for publishing novel research, fostering scientific discourse, and countering misinformation.

Given its rich dataset, it even served as an indispensable resource for a myriad of research disciplines ranging from public health to linguistics. Nevertheless, the winds of change have ushered in a sentiment of discontent.

Researchers decry the feeling of being "muzzled" on a platform that increasingly seems to prioritize the voices of those who splurge on verification. Further souring the relationship is X's prohibitive API pricing, rendering it inaccessible for most researchers.

While not all scientists and researchers are prepared to relinquish X entirely, it's evident that the platform's strategic decisions have estranged a significant chunk of its academic users.

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