How to leave X

Where we talk about the possibility and means of leaving or reducing your X (formerly Twitter) footprint.

Should you leave X? Can we leave X? How to leave X?

These questions must be on a lot of people’s minds, and maybe yours, so I’m going to give you my point of view, the alternatives that currently exist, and how I went about it.

This article is a translation of this one originally in French. I used DeepL and fixed it manually.

X or Twitter?

First of all, and before anyone shouts on me, yes, I’m calling this network X from now on. I’m not on Elon Musk’s payroll, rest assured, it’s just that we have to swallow the facts: Twitter, the network you joined before 2023, is now dead and has been replaced by something else.

Also let’s face it, it wasn’t going so well before, because Twitter’s executives have done nothing but make bad decisions. But now it’s a fact: Twitter is dead, and X is now nothing else than a billionaire’s plaything, and he’s sending it hurtling towards a wall.

Should you leave X?

There’s no simple answer to this simple question.

It all depends on your values, the market value that X represents in your life, your pro obligations, the interactions or accounts you’re willing to lose or not, all put on a big scale where you have to weigh up the pros and cons.

In other words, no one can answer but you, and no one can hold it against you if you don’t, because otherwise you’ll lose too much.

To this question, I prefer another: What are you still okay to give to X?

A social network only exists thanks to the users who make it up, and thanks to the content they graciously offer.

A post, a repost, a like, a follow, a reply: all these interactions are gifts you make to the network you’re on.

It’s no coincidence that for the past year, X has been constantly encouraging people to post (via financial remuneration), or to react (by presenting posts that create a buzz, usually negative). That’s because without your contribution, a social network can’t exist.

Indirectly, on X, you’re giving gifts to Elon Musk.

So there are plenty of ways of reducing the number of gifts you give, without having to suddenly close your X account and lose contact with certain people, which could even be detrimental to you in some cases. Those are the possibilities I propose you explore.

Personally, it was this gradual approach that enabled me to move on to other networks and realize that X was dying.

So by “leaving” X, I mean “gradually withdrawing” and not necessarily “I’m closing everything kthxbye”. But then again, you do what you want.

Is it possible to leave X?

Technically, yes. In practice, it’s more complicated.

As is often said, externalities on X are very strong. In other words, there’s a good chance that you have a large enough number of social links so that leaving X will have a major impact on you.

If you’re an influencer account, or if reaching the widest possible audience is essential to your business, leaving X is currently very difficult.

On the other hand, if you have a large community on TikTok or Instagram, you could perhaps strengthen these networks or bet on Threads, Bluesky… but above all, ask yourself whether maintaining a presence on X is worth it, especially if your mental health is taking a hit.

If, on the other hand, you only visit X sporadically, or the accounts you follow post elsewhere, greatly reducing your presence or even leaving X may turn out to be much easier than you think.

Finally, some people have absolutely no interest in leaving X. If you’re right-wing, homophobic or transphobic, for example… why go elsewhere when X is now the social network you were dreaming of? Stay on X and enjoy it (and I mean it)!

Among the content I’ve seen that’s hard to find elsewhere:

  • Artist accounts that have kept X as their most active social network.
  • Big accounts from influencers whose main social network is X.
  • Some live news accounts
  • Huge linguistic variety, for example as many Japanese accounts as English ones.
  • Artists posting 18+ content.
  • Pornographic accounts.
  • Propaganda accounts.

My own experience

This is just an example, I’m not a big account (6k followers on X) so obviously your case and objectives are likely to be different.

On Mastodon, it took me 1 year of constant posts to find an active community.

On Bluesky, it took me 3 months of constant posting to find an active community.

On Threads, the recovery of your Instagram community is automatic (big dirty cheat by Meta).

Depending on the topics covered (I post on all 3 simultaneously), the networks on which I have the most interaction are Mastodon and Bluesky.

My weakest network is Threads, which was expected as I’ve never been very active on Instagram.

My most recent best-performing post was on Mastodon, with around 300 reposts. For comparison, a single post is seen by about 10% of my follows on Mastodon in the first few hours (that’s about 200 people), which is “only” half as many as X (while X has 150x more active accounts).

I have “only” 2,300 followers on Mastodon and 1,900 on Bluesky, but I find that the % of engagement on these two networks is way higher than elsewhere, and above all my posts aren’t shown to communities of users in total opposition to my values.

On X, I have around 6400 followers, and I estimate that 20 to 30% are bots or inactive. In my opinion, I’ve regained more or less the same visibility on all the other networks combined. Today, I estimate that over 50% of the accounts I used to follow (excluding 18+) are present and active on other social networks.

My reach on X is around 5% for a normal post.

These figures are rather bad news for X, which has apparently entered a vicious circle in which it’s losing a substantial number of active users, with no turnaround in sight.

How to leave X?

Those advices won’t be valid for everyone – pick and choose, make your own recipe – but that’s what I could learn from my experience.

Do you want to stay on social networks?

This is really the first question to answer.

Many people have taken advantage of this “opportunity” to simply decide to reduce their presence on social networks, period.

If that’s the case, skip the next step 😉

Create new accounts elsewhere (if you don’t already have one).

Choose the network that seems most appropriate to replace your experience on X, if you really want to replace it… in fact, some people are on X only out of obligation, but don’t like the text microblog social network format.

From the biggest to the smallest, here are a few:

  • Facebook (3 billion accounts)
  • YouTube (2.4 billion)
  • Instagram (2 billion)
  • Tiktok (1 billion)
  • LinkedIn (900 million)
  • Tumblr (130 million)
  • Threads (100 million)
  • Mastodon/Firefish (14 million)
  • Bluesky (3 million)

Other networks should not be forgotten. For example, some people are mainly present only on Discord or Patreon.

Return to the original X experience

If you’re using extensions that allow you, for example, to change the look of X back to the look of Twitter (change the icon etc), I’d advise you to disable them.

This is no longer the experience that the majority of users have and it gives you the wrong idea of what X is now.

Does the X icon bother you? Good, it’ll make you want to come back to it less!

Post on all your other networks

Whatever alternative networks you choose, the most important thing is to post simultaneously on all your networks.

Especially if you’re followed by a lot of people, posting on all your networks in addition to X will encourage more and more people to switch to other networks.

Just don’t expect as much feedback as on X, which is one of the biggest networks today. The lack of view statistics and the youth of certain networks will make you feel like you’re shouting in the void. But you should keep posting anyway, really. It may take months, but it’s the only way to show your followers that they can find your content elsewhere.

Remember that networks are what you make of them.

If you don’t post, with a few exceptions (Threads), you won’t get any followers. This is even harder if you come from X with a 5- or 6-figure follower count, but it’s true.

If you only post on X, you create or maintain those famous externalities that don’t encourage your followers to go elsewhere.

Reduce your interactions on X to the strict minimum

Posts: unless it’s part of your obligations or you make a living from it, don’t post. Keep your content for other networks, perhaps your best content first, then all your content later.

Likes, reposts, quotes: Avoid these as much as possible. Try to check whether the original post exists on another network, and interact on the other network if it’s the case.

=> If it’s breaking news and it doesn’t exist elsewhere, instead of reacting to it on X, repost it on your other networks! Doesn’t fit in with the chill vibe elsewhere? Then maybe it wasn’t worth reacting to it at all.

=> If it’s a post that makes you react negatively (anxiety, anger, bad buzz etc.), block the account.

Replies, comments: don’t engage or keep them to a minimum. Delete your replies once the person to whom they are addressed has seen them.

As a general rule, always ask yourself these questions: Do I really want to give this gift to X? Do I really need to react here?

My personal experience:
– I only post to indicate my new networks (or share Bluesky invitation codes…).
– I no longer like, repost or quote in public.
– I almost never engage and comment/reply, preferring other networks, and if I do, I delete my reply as soon as possible.

Uninstall or hide the X app

Uninstalling the app from your devices or moving it away is a VERY effective solution to limit your access, and if you still need to access it, you can limit yourself to accessing it on your PC for example.

In any case, one of the first steps is undoubtedly to put the X app in the back of your smartphone: in a folder, or one of the last pages of the home screen, or delete the home shortcut on Android.

This will prevent your muscle memory from reflexively launching the app.

In its place, put the social network app you like or want to develop the most.

Reduce your “social graph” on X

The social graph is all the links that connect you to other accounts on X.

We’ve already talked about interactions, but there’s something else you can reduce: your follows.

I’m not going to lie, this step is rather time-consuming, but I guarantee it’s going to hold a lot of surprises in store for you.

Limiting your follows is a way of limiting the posts you see on X, but that you can find elsewhere. This will naturally encourage you to interact elsewhere. What’s more, you’ll no longer react to posts you no longer see. You have to do this manually, because X’s goal is just the opposite: to show you as much content as possible, so that you’ll come back to it as much as possible.

With around 1,000 follows, this part took me a long time (several days/weeks) because I was doing a little bit every day. For example, I’d say to myself: “Today I’m taking off 50”. It’s also complicated by the fact that X doesn’t show you your complete follow list. The more follows you remove, the more you’ll see in your list a few hours later.

You’ll certainly notice when you check your accounts that very quickly, Twitter BLOCKS you from viewing posts from any individual account. This is the result of the rate limit put in place at the end of June 2023, which has not been lifted in this case because… well, it makes it very difficult for you to clean up your social graph. Amazing, isn’t it? Tip: this block is lifted after a few minutes, but in the meantime you can still view the content of other accounts by going to the “Replies” tab of their profile.

Also after a few dozen deleted follows, you’ll soon realize that X’s UI is starting to go haywire all over the place, for several hours. This is certainly due to all the processes Musk has deleted for cost-saving reasons, and it’s things like this that show the service is technically falling apart.

Generally speaking, though, the procedure is simple: you go to your list of follows, and delete them according to certain criteria that you define in advance. Here are the ones I used, in order.

Pass 1 – Quick and easy

You’re no longer interested in the account => instant unfollow

You don’t know who it is => instant unfollow

You don’t remember seeing a post from this account recently. => check the account, it’s probably been inactive for months/years => instant unfollow

After this first pass, I reduced my number of follows by 25 to 30%, as a very large number of accounts became inactive at the end of 2022/beginning of 2023.

Once done, you may feel that the Twitter you knew no longer really exists, after seeing that many of the accounts you used to chat with have become completely dead.

Right now, X is only holding only thanks to its algorithm, which will dig for content to show you, often obliterating any links you may have previously had with users closer to you.

Pass 2 – Duplicates

For this pass, you’ll need to do more checks on X profiles and accounts and cross-reference them with other social networks. The idea is unfollow users that are active on other networks.

There are tools you can use for this step, such as Sky Follower Bridge, which finds your follows on Bluesky.

What I’ve noticed:

  • Artists are very often at least as active on Instagram, TikTok, Bluesky and Patreon.
  • Influencers and big accounts are also active on Tiktok, Instagram or Threads.
  • Technology and retrogaming accounts are also active on Mastodon, Bluesky, Facebook and Discord.
  • Librists are more active on Mastodon
  • LGBTQIA+ accounts are most active on Mastodon and Bluesky
  • Shitposts are also present on Bluesky and Mastodon
  • 18+ accounts (artists, SW) are sometimes also active on Bluesky or Mastodon.

Whenever you see a duplicate, don’t hesitate => instant unfollow

For people who are present but less active on other networks, it’s up to you to decide how much importance you attach to them. If it’s low or average, unfollowing them on X will help make them more active elsewhere (it’ll make at least one less “view” on their posts).

By the end of this step, I had deleted over 50% of my original follows.

Pass 3 – Choices

Below 250-300 follows, it starts to get complicated to delete them, since you’re bound to come across active accounts or accounts you’re still interested in.

But you’ve also reached the point where your timeline will change its behavior as you delete duplicates of accounts you follow on other networks. You’ll see people reappear whom you haven’t seen for a long time, for example.

At this point, you should feel that X no longer brings you as much as what you see on other networks. And it’s going to start to get a lot easier unfollow people you know, as you see posts popping up on your timeline. It’s even likely that, eventually, some accounts will become too spammy for you and you’ll naturally delete them.

That’s when you can definitely switch to what I’d call “read-only” mode.

Switch to “read-only mode” on X

Show that your account is inactive

By changing your bio, display name and/or PP, you can easily let your followers know that your X account is no longer your main account.

I recommend adding a link to a link aggregator (like linktr.ee or similar) where people can find your other social networks, in order of preference.

Personally, I deleted my bio and switched my (naturally very colorful) PP to black & white. The desired effect is that when someone finds me on another network, they’ll find the colorful PP they knew me by.

Make your account private

Making your X account private will allow you to do several things:

People that already follow you will still see your posts. If you’re a big creator and have other PR accounts, you won’t lose visibility.

You will no longer interact with your follows (unless you’re mutuals), which will force you to interact elsewhere.

You can still see the accounts that interest you.

You’ll find that many of your new followers are bots…

This option is also the one I recommend if you have alternative accounts (specific to a theme or fandom, 18+…). These are often communities or accounts that will be harder to find elsewhere, for the time being.

Create a second, private and limited account for follows you don’t want to lose

If you have an account with a large number of followers (5k+), one solution to limit your interactions naturally while keeping in touch with people who refuse to move out is to create an alternative private account on which you can transfer your follows (news accounts, artists who haven’t moved, close friends) and keep your main account public, but only for announcements that you post simultaneously on other social networks.

In this way, once again, you break down the externalities a little more and reduce your public social graph, which will encourage your followers to come and follow you on the other social networks without thinking that they’re losing out.

Limit the data that can be publicly exploited by X

Before you do anything, remember to download your X account archive. This can take up to 48 hours. You’ll get an archived mini-website to unzip with all your posts, reposts, media and DMs.

Clear your post history

When someone comes to view your profile on X while logged out, they see a selection of your “best posts”, some of which may be very old, some very new, giving the impression that your account is still active.

One way to avoid this is to make your account private.

The other solution is to delete your old posts using tools like TweetDelete (tested by me).

Unlike other networks such as Mastodon or Bluesky, these automated operations are unfortunately not free.

I recommend deleting in steps, year by year, starting with the oldest posts, which may enable you to keep your most recent posts. Another option allows you to automatically delete all posts older than a certain time span.

A one-month subscription is sufficient in most cases (deletion takes a long time).

Please note: even when deleted, X keeps an (inaccessible) archive of your posts for an unknown length of time.

Delete your account

This is the atomic weapon, of course.

You’ll have 30 days to reconsider your decision. After that, your account is unrecoverable, but more importantly, your account name can be reused.

That’s why it’s an option I don’t recommend for large accounts, and the reason why most of them announce that they’ve become inactive without deleting their accounts.

Please note: even when deleted, X keeps an (inaccessible) archive of your account for an unknown length of time.

Recreate another experience outside X

Leaving X is very good, but it’s important not to make the same mistakes elsewhere.

For example, networks like Threads have already seen a large number of negative posts. It’s up to you to act intelligently to create a better experience for yourself and everyone else. New tools are at your disposal to do just that:

Mastodon has a CW system that lets you hide conversations (political or otherwise) for people who’d rather not see them, while leaving the field clear for those who want to rant (rightly or wrongly).

Mastodon and Bluesky have very effective systems for tagging 18+ content, which is hidden by default when you register.

On Bluesky and Threads, when you block an account, all its replies to your posts become invisible to everyone. On Threads it also hides quotes.
This is actually the most effective moderation tool I’ve seen so far!

Bluesky has a system of shareable block lists to which you can subscribe to automatically block a bunch of accounts without you having to intervene. This system even lets you delegate the moderation of replies to your posts to another user! (your moderator create a moderation list and you subscribe it as a block list)

Mastodon lets you and your administrator block lists of users or other Mastodon servers. You can also make individual posts visible only to your followers.

To find communities of people who share the same passions as you, Mastodon lets you follow hashtags (posts containing them will appear on your timeline) and Bluesky lets you subscribe to algorithms created by other users called “Feeds”, which you can pin to your home.

In short, you have many more tools at your disposal to have a better experience than on X, and we’re just getting started.

If I can give you one last piece of advice, beware of algorithms that push negative content at you to get you to react (this is particularly the case on Threads). And block, block, block!

Conclusion

There’s no conclusion. It’s all in your hands.