There is no doubt about the benefits of Twitter. It’s a convenient way to get your memes, world news and pop culture hot in one place.
But being an active Twitter user requires sifting through a daily stream of toxic characters, including QAnon, white supremacists, bots, deepfakes, and more (though you may not find Donald Trump there anymore). Nor is there any denial of stress and anxiety that the rapid pace of Twitter’s news cycle and the strain of constantly discussing responses guys can bring.
Hear me out on this: you don’t actually have to use Twitter. I know it may seem like everyone else is using it, but you may be the change you want to see in the world. You can only delete your account.
Disable your Twitter account in a browser
If you are on a computer or in a mobile browser, go to Twitter.com and log in to your account. To deactivate:
- Click “More” on the web at the bottom left of the screen. Tap your profile icon in the mobile browser.
- Select “Settings & Privacy” and then “Your Account”
- At the bottom of the list, tap “Disable your account”
- Go to the bottom of the page to find the “Disable” link
There is a lot of information on the page before you come to this link, some of it is quite useful. There is a full description of what can no longer be seen (your display name, @ username and public profile), an assurance that you can restore your account “for some time” if it was accidentally or erroneously deleted , and a way to reactivate after 30 days or 12 months (useful if you are besieged and want to take a vacation from Twitter instead of deleting your account completely).
There are also links if you just want to change your name, use your current name with another account or download your Twitter data. The latter is always a good idea before deleting an account; here is the link.
Disable your Twitter account in the Twitter app
If you use a smartphone, go to the Twitter app and make sure you are logged in.
- Tap the three-line hamburger icon in the upper left corner. A menu appears from the side. Tap “Settings and Privacy” at the bottom.
- Tap “Account” at the top. On the account settings page, select “Disable your account” at the bottom
A few things to note:
- To repeat: your account does not disappear permanently after this process. Twitter stores your information for 30 days before deleting it permanently. To restore your account, just log in again.
- If you plan to create a new Twitter account with the same username and email address as the account you are disabling, change the current account to a different username and email address before disabling
- To download your Twitter data, do so Before disables. Twitter cannot send data from inactive accounts.
- Google and other search engines cache results, which means your old profile and tweets may still show up in response to search queries occasionally. However, anyone who clicks on them will get an error message.
Deactivating your account can be cumbersome, but to Twitter’s credit, it’s much more straightforward than the process of deleting some other services, such as Uber and Lyft.
But where do I get my news and memes now?
So Twitter is away from your life. Congratulations! But what do you want to do now that you do not have an infinite amount of tweets to roll through? Here are some other things you can try with your newfound free time.
- Mastodon. Mastodon is a decentralized version of Twitter that journalists have praised as “Twitter without Nazis.” Instead of a huge hot mess on a site, you log in to various “instances” of Mastodon, which are communities with different purposes and themes. Instead of tweets, you send “toots” and they have a limit of 500 characters. There is also a built-in content warning.
- Save your. There are certainly some toxic places on Reddit, but unlike Twitter, you are not forced to pay attention to them. You can follow and subscribe to subreddits about anything that hits your interest from Star Trek to the Furbies. Each subreddit has a clear set of rules and they are usually enforced. And if you get tired of a subreddit, you can leave it without leaving the website.
- Tumblr. Tumblr is similar to Twitter in many ways, but it has a few key differences. First, the number of followers is not public, so some members are not privileged over others in discussions or debates because of the size of their audience. Replies to other people’s posts do not appear on your feed, so you do not need to see other users’ arguments benefits. And there is no character limit, so you can add some nuance to the opinions you send.
- Facebook. Yes, there are many awful, awful, no good, very bad things about Facebook. But if you miss the opportunity to keep up with family and friends on Twitter, you can do the same on Facebook. You are not limited by the character restriction and you do not have to worry about anyone outside your friends list seeing your content.
- Newspapers. This may shock you, but lots of media companies still sell physical newspapers and magazines. You can pick them up at newsstands, bookstores, coffee shops and even have them delivered directly to your mailbox if you buy a subscription. Instead of being bombarded all day, you get your news in a digestible piece every morning. The best part: you look cool and sophisticated to everyone around you.
- Just go to The edge. Do not worry. We are always here for you.
Update January 14, 2021, 1:45 PM ET: This article was originally published on February 25, 2020 and has been updated to take into account changes in the interface.