Threads – the 1984 British nuclear apocalypse television film that launched tens of millions of nightmares – now has its own social med- Wait, no let’s start that again…
Meta – the company behind 2003 American social media network “Facebook” that launched tens of millions of nightmares – has created its own
Twitter rip-off MicroBlogging social site called Threads which is sort of piggy backing on Instagram in terms of its infrastructure and the way user accounts work.
Entirely by coincidence, this comes at a time when when Twitter’s future is hanging by a…string, after Elon Musk decided to implement rate limits on Twitter last week in a bid to combat what he called “mass data scraping”. The subsequent outages have proven to be the final straw for a vast amount of Twitter users who have already been fleeing the rapidly collapsing platform since his takeover, thanks to extremely buggy functionality, an unpopular the new Blue Tick system, and trying to force an algorithmic feed rather than a live one. Combine this with the biggest clue that a social media platform if dying, (terrible quality advertisements for drop shipping scams, which ironically is also a symptom of Facebook’s slow decline) and there’s now a Blade Runner style exodus from the burning earth to the new, supposedly brighter future, off-world colonies.
Following an Open Source earlier Twitter alternative called Mastodon essentially biting the dust (as a result of that classic Open Source thing of simply not working properly) there are now two options in terms of these off-world colonies. Meta’s Threads, and BlueSky. BlueSky, for what its worth, is an app launched by Twitter’s original founder Jack Dorsey and claims to be a “decentralized social network protocol” (which is essentially a way of trying to obfuscate the fact that it is still a Twitter clone even though it’s trying to pretend it isn’t).
BlueSky is currently invite-only, but otherwise seems to function pretty well; which is annoying as this is really the platform’s only problem: no one is on it. I haggled an invite code from someone last Monday and have only been able to find a handful of people I followed on Twitter. The place feels like a football stadium with only a few people inside of it, desperately trying to get some chanting going but instead just looking at each other in embarrassment.
Threads, on the other hand, claims to have had 30 million sign ups already. Even if we put aside the fact that Meta and Zuckerberg have a habit of, shall we say, telling (alleged) fibs over the amount of numbers actually on their platforms, it is clear that a huge amount of brands, influencers and users have already jumped ship. But Threads has a bigger problem…
I have been a heavy Twitter user for a ludicrous 15 years, 2008, back when the app was in its infancy and people were trying to get to grips with what it was actually for. Since then the app has allowed me to meet lots of new friends, reinvigorate my love for my football team, get my writing published in magazines and books and, indeed indirectly, landed me my job at Fountain Partnership whence I speak to you today. While it has been a difficult relationship at times, I already miss the platform and am frustrated with the way that it is sinking.
The reason for Twitter’s success for all of this time, despite the hate, nonsense, trolling and everything else is that ultimately it was the final social media bastion of allowing it be what you made it. Instead of having content decided by an algorithm shoved down your throat, you could, once you knew what you were doing, trim and preen it to suite your own taste. For me, I always enjoyed Twitter’s snarky and slightly cynical side – a trait rarely seen on algo-driven social media because it’s not considered “good content” – that reflects the reality of the human condition in a far better way that any Minion meme ever could. After reading saccharine nonsense on Instagram and LinkedIn, Twitter was like a nice strong bitter ale to take away all of the artificial flavour. On UK Twitter, at least, in-jokes and sarcasm were often the name of the game and this never really got diluted. As long as you didn’t take it too seriously, it could be fun.
Despite the open goal available to them, Meta have committed the fundamental error in creating a Twitter clone in that they have based time timeline entirely on an algorithm and not chronologically like Twitter’s USP. The result is generic, by numbers social content – such as what you can already get on Facebook. Terrible boomer memes, unfunny jokes, copied posts you’ve already seen 100s of times might be for some people, and, as this is the complete opposite of what Twitter was about – I will be stunned if the thing becomes a success once Twitter’s users figure this out. Throw in a really buggy app, no option to use on browser, an EU ban and some pretty scary looking user data it wants to access, it’s all a bit rubbish right now.
While it remains to be seen if BlueSky will maintain this radical idea of only seeing things that you want to see, it’s quite obvious that this is certainly not the case with Threads – which is the reason why personally, I am out.
But will this cause Twitter’s nuclear Armageddon? Personally I don’t think so, but only the social media timeline will tell.