Tech & The Web

Giving Hive Social a Test Drive…and I See a Problem

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The social media platform Hive Social is becoming a Twitter alternative for some. For me, I have already seen one big issue with it.

For people actively looking to leave Twitter, they are finding options. Some feel that as Twitter alternatives go, a relative newcomer called Hive Social is gaining attention.

I don’t really have any plans to leave Twitter. I know flocks of people claim they already have done so over concerns about its new owner, Elon Musk. To be on the safe side, however, I decided to try a few just to see what’s out there.

The first such potential “alternative” I tried was Mastodon. I wasn’t impressed by its odd layout, the manner in which you’re supposed to choose some server somewhere that will “house” your account, and the extraordinarily slow response times for simple functions like verifying an email address and resetting your password. (I still haven’t received a password reset link from weeks ago.)

Is it supposed to be like Twitter or Instagram?

One source lists it as an alternative to Twitter. It sort of looks like Twitter. But another lists it as an alternative to Instagram. Well, the way it displays posts with images, it looks like Instagram, too.

It seems to be more Twitterish, though, complete with a “retweet”-like option.

NPR lists two features its users might appreciate:

It offers a chronological feed (rather than the algorithm-determined feeds of many leading apps), and it says it does not do “shadow banning” or prioritize certain accounts.

Chronological order is important to some because it makes it easier to pick up where you left off. On the other hand, a feed the algorithm prioritizes would place posts from those you’re most likely to interact with first. The problem with a prioritized feed, though, is some people’s posts may not show at all unless you go to their profile. I don’t know how many people go to the profiles of everyone they follow on Twitter to see what they missed. I suspect that’s a low number.

I feel like I would rather have a chronological feed on my social media accounts. But I do understand why more people would probably prefer prioritized.

Alone in a small forest

Alone is the word that seems to resonate most on Hive Social. Unlike Twitter’s millions of users, Hive Social only recently crossed the 1.5 million mark.

But it’s hard to find users to follow or interact with, particularly by topic. If I search for “Charleston,” I’m only shown users who have “Charleston” in their user name. I figured out that the only way to search by topic is to actually add the # and then search for specific hashtags.

But I want to find something about Rough Collies, for example, not all Rough Collie owners may specifically tag every post #roughcollie or have “RoughCollie” as part of their username. So in those cases, as far as I can tell, a search won’t point to those users.

I’m sure my experience on Twitter was mostly like this when I joined that service 14 years ago. But 14 years later, after having built a small following, it seems more difficult to find people and make connections on Hive Social. I expect that will change as more people join.

Where’s the desktop version?

Given that the platform is only three years old and relatively small, I wouldn’t expect third-party services like Buffer to be able to post to them on a user’s behalf. It’d be nice, but it’s probably a bit too soon for that.

Still, it doesn’t appear that I can schedule a post to appear at certain day or time within the app itself. You either post right that minute or not at all. No, it’s not a dealbreaker, but it definitely falls under the “Nice to Have” category of features.

But the biggest frustration for me is that the option to log in on desktop doesn’t exist. Hive Social operates, at the moment, only in the form of mobile apps for iOS or Android. If I’m sitting here on my laptop, where I prefer to do most of my social media activity as well, I still have to pick up my phone to visit Hive.

I realize the fact that I still prefer a desktop or laptop computer for the bulk of my computer activity may put me in a minority. But it’s still my preference. For some things, blogging included, I find a desktop or laptop better and easier than a smart phone.

Overall, it might be a good solution.

Unlike Mastodon, which seems overwhelmed by its own recent influx of users to the point that it’s practically unresponsive to support requests, Hive Social seems much more stable.

It’s familiar in design to Twitter with hints of Instagram mixed in. There are a few extra features I didn’t mention like profile color options and the ability to play music for anyone who visits your profile. That feels very MySpace-ish. The auto-play of music is a major turn-off for me. As a user who often has multiple tabs open, I despise auto-play anything.

Some have suggested you may find more “not-safe-for-work” content on Hive Social. But the service does offer an option in your account settings to hide such content automatically. It also claims to be very serious to take action on anyone who posts “NSFW” content without flagging as such.

But in terms of usability and ease of figuring things out, it seems much easier to navigate.

If you’re on Hive Social — or planning to join at some point — you can find me at @patricksplace. Please say hello and be sure to mention that this silly little blog sent you!

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.