July 3, 2023

The “New Black Twitter” App Spill #1 In App Store As Twitter Flounders

Spill, a new social platform, has recently launched in beta on iOS and has quickly gained popularity within the Black community.

Its surge in users can be attributed in part to Elon Musk’s announcement to limit the number of daily tweets visible on Twitter as well as several technical mishaps in recent months. 

What is Spill?

The platform is invite-only while in beta and has been described as a visual-first, multimedia microblogging app with an interface similar to Tumblr.

The app has a live news feed and allows people to stay updated with current affairs and pop news culture.

Spill is headed up by CEO Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell and CTO DeVaris Brown, a pair of Black former Twitter employees.

The two met on their first day working at Twitter after noticing they were the only Black guys on their team. However, when Elon Musk bought Twitter, Terrell was laid off from his role as the global head of social and editorial.

So, he joined forces with Brown to start a new and improved social platform.  Their entrepreneurial journey has seen early success, with Spill recently securing $2.75 million in pre-seed funding, as well as the attention of Black Twitter. 

Terrell took to Twitter earlier today to announce that Spill had reached #1 on the App Store.

The “New Black Twitter”

Spill has a deliberate mission to build diverse communities from day one rather than as an afterthought.

They told TechCrunch in an interview that the name came from “spill the tea,” a commonly used phrase in the Black community.

During its alpha phase, the all-Black team deliberately sought out Black and queer creators to onboard the platform since these users often create the trends and memes that the rest of the internet later adopts.

“On every other platform, Black and brown folks, marginalized folks, queer folks – have had to kind of elbow to create space. We’re starting with them at the front of the line,” Kenya Parham, Spill’s Global VP of Community and Partnerships, told TechCrunch.

Image Credit: Spill

Brown also focuses on using an AI system that largely moderates language and content circulating the app following other Twitter alternatives such as Bluesky, recently coming under fire due to moderation issues.

Spill also gives users a rep score with incentives such as new features if your score remains high to ensure and encourage good behavior.

They also have plans to build their own custom large language model for content moderation since existing models are often created without the ability to understand black dialects like AAVE.

Black Users’ Reactions

Black users have been announcing their departure from Twitter to join Spill as one user tweeted it’s a “Whole app of nothing but Black Twitter.”

Another tweeted, “I’m having a good time on Spill. It feels like the first day of school trying to figure out where your classes are, but the vibes are great.”

Founder and creative advisor Sierra Imari reviewed the app before Musk decided to limit tweet views and called it “a new social media platform for culture” that is wholesome and to be kept an eye on as it expands.

Reportedly, celebrities such as Keke Palmer have also joined the platform.. 

Musk’s Twitter Downfall

Spill ironically was a trending topic on Twitter today, and there has been a surge in sign-ups for the new app following Musk’s changes to Twitter.

On Twitter, Musk has now limited the number of tweets users can read, with verified account holders able to peruse a maximum of 10,000 posts daily, unverified users limited to 1000 posts, and unverified, newly registered users only able to view 500 posts per day.

In a tweet, he wrote that Twitter is wrestling with extreme data scraping from several hundred organizations, insisting that these new constraints are essential to curb these pressing issues.

But this week, Twitter appears to have a bug in its app as the web app sends requests to Twitter in an infinite loop.

Tens of thousands of users also complained that on Saturday, Twitter was not populating their feeds with newer tweets. Instead, they were greeted with the rate limit exceeded error.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.