Twitter is experiencing a mass exodus with one of the largest alternatives, Hive, unable to keep up with the growing demand. TechCrunch reports that Hive is shutting down for a few days to fix critical vulnerabilities found by a team of German researchers. Hive’s rapid growth has been powered by reaction to Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, with a sizable chunk of users seeking out viable alternatives.
The German research collective that found the vulnerability, Zerforschung, initially had trouble finding a point of contact for Hive. Security flaws found by the researchers would allow attackers to access all of a user’s data, including private messages, shared media, and deleted messages. Even though the social media company claimed to have fixed the flaws, the researchers saw they were still present, leading to the Germans going public on Twitter over the Hive security flaw.
After Zerforschung went public, and ironically on Twitter, Hive made the announcement about taking the servers offline for a few days. The company claimed to have never said that the issue was fixed, just that they were in the process of fixing it. Experienced tech workers are now questioning Hive’s long-term prospects if all operations have to be ceased in order to perform a bug fix.
Other Twitter alternatives, besides Hive, have experienced massive amounts of growth these last few weeks. Social media alternatives include the likes of Mastodon, CounterSocial, Koo, and even Tumblr. With dramatically increased user counts over the past few weeks, each of the competitors for Twitter’s market share is also coming under heavy scrutiny.
Back to the largest of the Twitter competitors, Hive’s increased scrutiny has also brought the company under fire for a problematic employee. Gil Malfalbon, the man behind the design structure of Hive, sent out some poorly thought out Tweets in the past that led to the nascent company to remove him from a leadership role. Malfalbon represented 25% of the workforce at the company, which yes, does mean that the entire application is being run by four people.
Twitter is expected to run into issues with moderation compliance, which seems like the likely fate for Hive as well. With over 2 million users, and no moderation team, security team, or policies to maintain compliance with strict regulations required by certain regulatory bodies, most notably the EU, Hive could be the subject of lawsuits. Without moderation, Hive currently has a growing issue with illegal content, including gore, that has the potential to cause the app to be pulled from EU marketplaces.
As Elon Musk is discovering with Twitter, and Hive will have to reckon with in the future, running social media is a costly venture that requires trained teams of specialized employees. Companies pulling advertising from Twitter can just go to other platforms, but for the regular, everyday users, finding an alternative is proving to be difficult. Mastodon, Tumblr, Hive, each one attempts to offer something unique and different for users, but to date, none have managed to hit the winning formula of Twitter’s 280-character limit messages and rapid, algorithmic feed.