Will Meta’s new Threads app unravel Twitter? - GulfToday

Will Meta’s new Threads app unravel Twitter?

This photo shows an image of Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg reflected in the opening page of Threads, an Instagram app. File/AFP

This photo shows an image of Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg reflected in the opening page of Threads, an Instagram app. File/AFP

Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, Tribune news Service

The Baltimore Sun (TNS) I’d like to say I tiptoed into Meta’s new social media app Threads last week, approaching it with a caution gained from my nearly 15 years of posts, likes and tweets on a panoply of platforms. But I would be lying. I jumped like Kris Kross, leaping to download a potential refuge from the dumpster fire that Twitter — my former favorite social media platform — has become.

I was not the first to thread the needle, but for an app that had 70 million sign-ups in 48 hours, I was among the first 620,000 to willingly agree to an insane invasion of privacy. Yes, I was that desperate, and at that point, I had no regrets. You see, I’ve been tweeting since 2009. Back then, my friends were all over this thing called Facebook, posting picture after picture of their adorable kids. I didn’t have children and was at a disadvantage. This was just before cats took over the internet, and while I did have a sweet kitty, apparently I was shortsighted about his long-haired appeal.

I’m also a word nerd who loves to read. Yes, a picture is worth a 1,000 words, but writing has always been how I expressed myself. So I was content to follow my photo friends on one platform and my word peeps on another. In many ways, Facebook and later, Instagram, were my happy playgrounds while Twitter was my hostile workplace. Last Wednesday those two worlds came clashing together and now, a week later, I may have some regrets.

For starters, what I thought was a text-based app has too many pictures and memes flooding my feed. The Instagram community appears unable to let go of its “picture or it didn’t happen” theology. There’s also no chronological feed of only those you follow, rather a constant stream of algorithmic bias that is similar to what was already annoying on Twitter. Since Elon Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion last October, there has been a steady stream of hacks for working around willy-nilly changes to the platform. Users trying to cope could almost MacGyver it into something resembling its former self. It was Twitter’s creep toward the right-wing fanaticism embraced by its new owner that pushed many to abandon what had been a thriving and active public square. Enter Bluesky, Mastodon, Post, Spill, Spoutible and more to offer an alternative.

So far Threads has been the most successful, luring tens of millions to giddily join a new platform from an old pro — Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg — that is widely expected to be a “Twitter killer.” Might want to slow your doomscroll on that forecast. On Friday, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, posted a clear message to new users: Threads is no Twitter. “The goal isn’t to replace Twitter. The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter.” Oh. Mosseri went on to lambaste what would not be welcome on Threads: politics and news.

“There are more than enough amazing communities — sports, music, fashion, beauty, entertainment, etc. — to make a vibrant platform without needing to get into politics or hard news.” While those topics may be important, he said, they’re just too negative. Oh-oh. I mean, the entertainment industry has never been toxic as Harvey Weinstein can testify. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has rarely heard a negative word. And beauty and fashion are immune to politics — just ask Lizzo. Mosseri’s misguided philosophy that social media is for sunshine is why many users have two Instagram accounts — one for people to follow and another for people to know the truth: that a hard rain of utter despair falls on us all sometimes. Isn’t it better to offer an umbrella than to pretend we’re not wet? And just like that, my optimism for Threads began to unravel. I spent the weekend ping-ponging between the two apps. While some were eager to enjoy more puppies and fewer quacks on Threads, I was still drawn to Twitter.

It’s quite possible that Threads users will end up weaving into the platform the best parts of Twitter — the advocacy, networking, political empowerment, and yes, the hard news that forces societal reckoning and engages groups to advocate for change. I hope Meta’s leaders don’t let a different kind of fanaticism stand in the way.

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