ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Meta's Threads App: The Future of Social Media or Yet Another Twitter Knock-Off?

Is it possible to have the good without the bad?

Published
Tech News
5 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

After months of build-up, Meta's new app called Threads is finally out the door. Launched in over 100 countries, the Instagram spin-off app became available to download for Android and iOS users on Thursday morning, 6 July.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that Threads crossed five million sign ups in the first four hours and 10 million sign ups soon after. Mackey, refresh?

According to a blog post by its parent company, Threads is meant "for sharing text updates and joining public conversations." But the design and user interface of the new app is quite brazen in its resemblance to Twitter. And going by this not-so-cryptic tweet (his first in many years), Zuckerberg seems to agree.

Threads has been billed as Meta's answer to Twitter, which has been falling apart under Elon Musk. The billionaire owner recently announced another round of changes to the microblogging platform, such as having caps on how many tweets can be viewed in a day, leaving several users puzzled.

Can Threads be their rescue boat? How does it stack up against Twitter? What makes this billionaire-run platform different? Is it possible to have the good without the bad? Let's take a closer look.

Meta's Threads App: The Future of Social Media or Yet Another Twitter Knock-Off?

  1. 1. All the Hits and Misses

    Is it possible to have the good without the bad?

    "Your feed on Threads includes threads posted by people you follow, and recommended content from new creators you haven’t discovered yet," Meta said in a blog post.

    (Photo Courtesy: Meta)

    Threads has many strong positives. For instance, creating an account on the app is smooth, fast, and easy – as long as you have an Instagram account. With one click, you can import your Instagram username, bio, profile picture, and verification mark too.

    "Posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length," the platform said. "The core accessibility features available on Instagram today, such as screen reader support and AI-generated image descriptions, are also enabled on Threads," it added.

    Its other features are nothing special, just your run-of-the-mill notifications tab, search bar, repost and quote-Thread(?) options, etc.

    Addressing online safety of children and teens, Meta said, "Everyone who is under 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will be defaulted into a private profile when they join Threads."

    "The post-and-comment model is great [...] But it really does not support public discourse nearly as well as the tweet-and-reply model. Elevating the reply to the same level as the original post allows for much more robust, diverse discourse. Which is part of the reason we didn’t just try to shove this thing into the feed on Instagram or a separate tab," Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri was quoted as saying by The Verge.

    Yet, Threads is far from perfect. It doesn't allow users to edit their posts or embed them elsewhere. Search is only limited to other user accounts, and trending hashtags are still to appear on the platform.

    Is it possible to have the good without the bad?

    "Like on Instagram, you can add hidden words to filter out replies to your threads that contain specific words. You can unfollow, block, restrict or report a profile on Threads by tapping the three-dot menu, and any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads," Meta said in a blog post.

    (Photo Courtesy: Meta)

    But what Threads users are grumbling about the most is their own feed. The platform doesn't just show you posts from "following" users, it also throws up recommended posts based on your network.

    What's worse is that following someone on Instagram means that you automatically follow them on the Threads app. Not letting users delete their Threads account without deleting their Instagram account has also sparked outcry.

    Expand
  2. 2. Just Another Twitter Clone?

    Not quite. It's true that everything about Threads feels like an older, pre-Musk version of Twitter. But in some ways, that's simply not the case.

    Yes, Threads appears to follow the same "post-and-comment" model as that of Twitter. It's goal of enabling users to join "public conversations" also resonates with the "town square" image that Twitter had sought to build.

    On the other hand, Threads is ad-free (for now) and is looking to embrace decentralisation. "Soon, we are planning to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open social networking protocol established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body responsible for the open standards that power the modern web," the big tech company said.

    "This would make Threads interoperable with other apps that also support the ActivityPub protocol, such as Mastodon and WordPress – allowing new types of connections that are simply not possible on most social apps today," the blog post further read.

    "If you decide to leave Threads one day, you should be able to bring your audience with you. I’ve talked about this idea in a couple of different contexts. There are, I think, better ways to do this over the long run, but I do think ActivityPub allows you to support that," Instagram head Mosseri had said in an interview.

    Expand
  3. 3. What Happened to Data Minimisation?

    Threads has launched in over 100 countries but none of them are part of the European Union. That's because the app is not yet in compliance with the EU's data privacy regulations.

    Even before its rollout, folks were alarmed over the amount of user data that Threads sought to collect. As per mandatory disclosures on the App Store, Threads looks to collect the following types of data from users with their consent:

    • Health and Fitness

    • Financial Info

    • Contact Info

    • User Content

    • Browsing History

    • Usage Data

    • Diagnostics

    • Purchases

    • Location

    • Contacts

    • Search History

    • Identifiers

    • Sensitive Info

    ...and more. For context, one of Meta's "core principles" is data minimisation which involves "collecting the minimum amount of data required to support our services."

    Expand
  4. 4. Fresh Platform, Familiar Trolls

    One of the major questions being raised by Indian users on Threads is: When do the trolls get here? Though, it could also be their Twitter hangover talking as content moderation under Musk got messy several times.

    Like that time he temporarily suspended journalists who have been critical of him, or that time he brought back Kanye West only to re-ban him after the latter posted a photo of a swastika. Most recently, the self-declared free speech absolutist said that Twitter will consider the terms "cis" or "cisgender" to be a slur.

    Meanwhile, Threads is brought to you by the same people behind Facebook and Instagram – that's probably not a good thing when it comes to content moderation.

    Just two years ago, whistleblowers exposed how Facebook allegedly cared more about profits than the well-being of its users. But that wasn't all.

    The documents that they had made public held major revelations; for instance, it showed how Facebook had allegedly hesitated to crackdown on hate speech from members of the ruling party in India and how senior Facebook executives had allegedly weighed in on key decisions to protect the powerful.

    Not to mention that content moderation could get trickier on decentralised social networks.

    Expand
  5. 5. Social Media: The Next Stages

    The arrival of Threads is still significant as it hints at the end of a social media era (Twitter's downfall) and the dawn of a new one (aka the Fediverse).

    Thanks to open protocols like ActivityPub, social networks like Threads stand to become more interoperable and decentralised. This would ensure that users have more control than any one single company or platform.

    "You’re giving up some control. But there are benefits. I do think over time, it’s going to be a more compelling value proposition that other apps are going to offer. And I think that should attract more creative talent over the long run," Mosseri was quoted as saying.

    Currently, Mastodon is powered by ActivityPub while the AT Protocol acts as the foundation of Jack Dorsey's Bluesky. Tumblr, Flipboard, Medium, and Mozilla are also looking to plug into ActivityPub.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

All the Hits and Misses

Is it possible to have the good without the bad?

"Your feed on Threads includes threads posted by people you follow, and recommended content from new creators you haven’t discovered yet," Meta said in a blog post.

(Photo Courtesy: Meta)

Threads has many strong positives. For instance, creating an account on the app is smooth, fast, and easy – as long as you have an Instagram account. With one click, you can import your Instagram username, bio, profile picture, and verification mark too.

"Posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length," the platform said. "The core accessibility features available on Instagram today, such as screen reader support and AI-generated image descriptions, are also enabled on Threads," it added.

Its other features are nothing special, just your run-of-the-mill notifications tab, search bar, repost and quote-Thread(?) options, etc.

Addressing online safety of children and teens, Meta said, "Everyone who is under 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will be defaulted into a private profile when they join Threads."

"The post-and-comment model is great [...] But it really does not support public discourse nearly as well as the tweet-and-reply model. Elevating the reply to the same level as the original post allows for much more robust, diverse discourse. Which is part of the reason we didn’t just try to shove this thing into the feed on Instagram or a separate tab," Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri was quoted as saying by The Verge.

Yet, Threads is far from perfect. It doesn't allow users to edit their posts or embed them elsewhere. Search is only limited to other user accounts, and trending hashtags are still to appear on the platform.

Is it possible to have the good without the bad?

"Like on Instagram, you can add hidden words to filter out replies to your threads that contain specific words. You can unfollow, block, restrict or report a profile on Threads by tapping the three-dot menu, and any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads," Meta said in a blog post.

(Photo Courtesy: Meta)

But what Threads users are grumbling about the most is their own feed. The platform doesn't just show you posts from "following" users, it also throws up recommended posts based on your network.

What's worse is that following someone on Instagram means that you automatically follow them on the Threads app. Not letting users delete their Threads account without deleting their Instagram account has also sparked outcry.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Just Another Twitter Clone?

Not quite. It's true that everything about Threads feels like an older, pre-Musk version of Twitter. But in some ways, that's simply not the case.

Yes, Threads appears to follow the same "post-and-comment" model as that of Twitter. It's goal of enabling users to join "public conversations" also resonates with the "town square" image that Twitter had sought to build.

On the other hand, Threads is ad-free (for now) and is looking to embrace decentralisation. "Soon, we are planning to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open social networking protocol established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body responsible for the open standards that power the modern web," the big tech company said.

"This would make Threads interoperable with other apps that also support the ActivityPub protocol, such as Mastodon and WordPress – allowing new types of connections that are simply not possible on most social apps today," the blog post further read.

"If you decide to leave Threads one day, you should be able to bring your audience with you. I’ve talked about this idea in a couple of different contexts. There are, I think, better ways to do this over the long run, but I do think ActivityPub allows you to support that," Instagram head Mosseri had said in an interview.

0

What Happened to Data Minimisation?

Threads has launched in over 100 countries but none of them are part of the European Union. That's because the app is not yet in compliance with the EU's data privacy regulations.

Even before its rollout, folks were alarmed over the amount of user data that Threads sought to collect. As per mandatory disclosures on the App Store, Threads looks to collect the following types of data from users with their consent:

  • Health and Fitness

  • Financial Info

  • Contact Info

  • User Content

  • Browsing History

  • Usage Data

  • Diagnostics

  • Purchases

  • Location

  • Contacts

  • Search History

  • Identifiers

  • Sensitive Info

...and more. For context, one of Meta's "core principles" is data minimisation which involves "collecting the minimum amount of data required to support our services."

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Fresh Platform, Familiar Trolls

One of the major questions being raised by Indian users on Threads is: When do the trolls get here? Though, it could also be their Twitter hangover talking as content moderation under Musk got messy several times.

Like that time he temporarily suspended journalists who have been critical of him, or that time he brought back Kanye West only to re-ban him after the latter posted a photo of a swastika. Most recently, the self-declared free speech absolutist said that Twitter will consider the terms "cis" or "cisgender" to be a slur.

Meanwhile, Threads is brought to you by the same people behind Facebook and Instagram – that's probably not a good thing when it comes to content moderation.

Just two years ago, whistleblowers exposed how Facebook allegedly cared more about profits than the well-being of its users. But that wasn't all.

The documents that they had made public held major revelations; for instance, it showed how Facebook had allegedly hesitated to crackdown on hate speech from members of the ruling party in India and how senior Facebook executives had allegedly weighed in on key decisions to protect the powerful.

Not to mention that content moderation could get trickier on decentralised social networks.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Social Media: The Next Stages

The arrival of Threads is still significant as it hints at the end of a social media era (Twitter's downfall) and the dawn of a new one (aka the Fediverse).

Thanks to open protocols like ActivityPub, social networks like Threads stand to become more interoperable and decentralised. This would ensure that users have more control than any one single company or platform.

"You’re giving up some control. But there are benefits. I do think over time, it’s going to be a more compelling value proposition that other apps are going to offer. And I think that should attract more creative talent over the long run," Mosseri was quoted as saying.

Currently, Mastodon is powered by ActivityPub while the AT Protocol acts as the foundation of Jack Dorsey's Bluesky. Tumblr, Flipboard, Medium, and Mozilla are also looking to plug into ActivityPub.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from tech-and-auto and tech-news

Topics:  Twitter   Meta 

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×