Social media has entered a tailspin following Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. Twitter users unhappy with Musk’s personal and professional decisions are flocking to alternatives.

Interest first piqued around Mastodon, an open-source, decentralized social media platform promising no ads or algorithm-influenced content. Within 11 days of the Musk-Twitter deal officially closing, Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko claimed the platform gained 489,003 new users.

Now the buzz surrounds Hive, a social media app that wants you to “express yourself without the pressure of traditional social media apps.” 

What Is the Hive Social App?

Hive is a social media platform that combines concepts from Myspace, Instagram and Twitter to create a familiar yet unique digital experience. It uses chronological feeds to reduce the user pressure created by algorithms and promotes self-expression through Myspace-esque features like badges, color themes and zodiac signs.

Despite the app’s claim to shy away from algorithms regarding suggested content, it’s not 100% algorithm-free. The platform’s founder, Raluca Pop, told Business Insider she plans to moderate content on Hive Social through a combination of algorithms and human moderators. With only three total employees, however, no content moderators currently work on the app.

Who Owns Hive Social?

With another social media site gaining popularity, it’s natural to wonder about the Hive Social founder, 24-year-old Raluca Pop.

In 2019, Pop, a then-college student, became frustrated with her algorithm-swayed experiences on social media. She taught herself how to code, began working on Hive and released the Hive Social app on the iOS App Store later that year.

By 2021 (after some user experience updates), Hive reached the No. 1 position in the App Store. Today, it has hit 2 million downloads.

Is Hive Social Free?

With Twitter adding a price tag to its blue checkmark verification, you might wonder if this social platform comes with a cost.

The Hive app is free to download and use. You can find the app in both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. For now, it has no ads, but that could change in the future with the influx of new users and the associated rising costs.

Related Article: What Is Mastodon, the Red-Hot Open Source Twitter Rival

How to Sign Up for Hive

If you want a Twitter alternative that doesn’t require picking out a server, Hive might be for you.

Right now, Hive is a mobile-only social media app — no desktop version is available. You can download it from the iOS App Store or Google Play. You can also find a download on the Hive Social website.

Once you download and open the app, you’ll have to create an account. You’ll need an email address or a Google account for the Hive Social sign up process. The app then asks for your age (which it says it keeps private).

Hive website download page

Next, it’s time to create a username and display name.

Some people have reported issues finding a username, with all usernames seeming to be taken. Hive said a rush of 40K new sign-ups took down a server, and a fix is on the way. This glitch is not affecting all new users.

Hive tweet on server glitch

Once you’ve found a username, you’ll pick out a minimum of three interests from a list. You can choose from options like astrology, tech, books, sports, camping and robotics. You can also use the search function to find your specific interests faster.

Once sign up is complete (no email verification necessary if signing up via Google), you’ll be redirected to your feed page in the app.

How to Use Hive

Navigation on the app is simple — there are five tabs at the bottom of the screen.

Access Your Feed

The tab on the far left (with the hive icon) is your feed. Posts will pop up here once you find people to follow. As a new user, you’ll see a button on this screen that says “start exploring,” If you click it, it will take you to the next tab over, the discover tab.

Discover People and Content

The discover tab, with the magnifying glass icon, is where you can browse through trending, new and topic-based images (similar to Instagram) to find posts to like and people to follow. You can also use the search bar at the top to look up specific topics, interests, posts or users.

Hive discover tab screenshot

As you browse, you might come across multiple accounts with the same username — another side effect of the server glitch. While this issue could pave the way for impersonators, Hive knows of the problem and is looking for solutions.

Create New Posts

The third tab, marked with a circle and plus sign, is the post tab. It’s where you type out your thoughts and publish them for your followers to see. You can also attach images to posts, add in GIFs, stickers and emojis and create polls.

Learning Opportunities

Review Notifications

The fourth tab, with the familiar bell icon, is your notifications hub. Here you can see who’s following you and follow them back. You can also see who liked your posts, commented, shared and more.

Personalize Your Profile

The last tab on the far right — with your profile icon — is your profile page. This is where you can upload a profile and background photo. You can also write a bio, mention your website and display your zodiac sign. In the future, Hive plans to add a profile music feature (think Myspace).

Your profile page shows your posts, followers and people you follow. There is also a question mark icon in the top right corner, which displays questions people have asked you and your answers.

You can access the settings via the gear icon from your profile page. This is where you change security and notification settings and play with color themes. You can customize the ask feature (the question mark icon above) to control who can ask you questions and if they remain anonymous.

This settings screen is also where you can log out of the app. Just don’t forget your Hive social login if you want to use it again.

Related Article: Twitter’s Turbulent Year, as Seen Through One Fired Employee’s Cartoons

Is Hive Safe to Use?

A week ago, most people considered Hive as safe as any other social media site. Now, that’s changed.

On Nov. 30, German cybersecurity company Zerforschung released a warning — on Twitter and their website homepage — urging people to not use Hive Social in any form.

Hive security warning tweet

Zerforschung claimed they found multiple critical vulnerabilities regarding the site’s security. This warning comes after the company attempted to contact Hive confidentially, but not saw no resolution.

The security vulnerabilities found allow attackers to access all user data, including email addresses, phone numbers, private messages, deleted direct messages and more. Attackers can also overwrite data, such as changing the text in another user’s post.

Hive’s response to the warning report was to turn off all servers — meaning the platform is currently down (still down as of Dec. 1). The company did promise Hive would be available again in a few days, after issues have been fixed.

Hive response tweet to security problem

Is Hive Here to Stay?

Hive is still a fledgling social media company with only a few years under its belt. Does it have the stamina to overtake Twitter?

Hive Social hit 2 million downloads and nearly 900,000 active users. It currently sits at No. 6 on the charts for Google Play’s top free social apps (and 83 out of all free apps). 

Mastodon, the open-source Twitter alternative, hit 2.6 million users this November, according to Fortune. It ranks 20th on Google Play’s top free social apps chart (and doesn’t rank within the top 100 of all free apps). 

Twitter, in comparison, ranks third among the top free social apps and 34th out of all free apps. And as of the second quarter of 2022, Twitter had 237.8 million users — up more than 8 million from the previous quarter.

While Twitter alternatives like Hive Social and Mastodon might find an influx of new users (and even dedicated advocates), it’s hard to say if they can overtake a social giant like Twitter. Despite Musk’s takeover, Twitter continues to grow, and it’s looking more likely that it will remain near the top of the social food chain.