Jul 14, 2023, 05:55AM

A Needle in the Haystack of Social Media

Is Threads different, or more of the same?

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As we come to the end of Week One on Threads, the latest social media app owned by Meta, it’s a good time to pause and reflect.

New York Times tech journalists Brian Chen and Mike Isaac, both traditional Twitter users like most journalists, took to the first days of Threads to review it. Isaac offered this no-duh summary: 

"So far, I’m enjoying it. But it definitely feels like a stripped-down version of Twitter. No hashtags, heavy on the influencers — and the worst part is, a lot of the people in my replies don’t seem to get my jokes that usually do well on Twitter."

It feels like a stripped-down version of Twitter because it is a stripped-down (improved!) version of Twitter, and that’s the main reason most people (myself included) like it. Not here to defend your Twitter jokes, you’re on your own with those. Keep right on posting them there where the rest of your journo friends can like and retweet them (new “salute” emoji). Meanwhile the cool kids are on Threads.

I’ve always quickly adapted to changing social media landscapes. I never posted on Vine, but was there to watch its five-year rise and fall. I think as a mom of two Millennials and two “Zoomers,” I’m pretty much on board with social media platforms as they've arrived (with the notable exception of Snapchat, which I never embraced; let the kids have one platform Mom isn’t awkwardly hanging around on).

Much discussion has swarmed about the battle between Meta (and Threads) founder Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, whose reactions have resembled that of a temper-tantrum throwing toddler or, more accurately, an insecure adolescent, since the Twitter owner took to his platform to challenge Zuckerberg (after posting his dysfunctional-Dr. Seuss “Zuck is a cuck” tweet) to a dick-size contest (go buy OnlyFans, Musk, and post that horror show there). Twitter traffic probably saw a slight rise as users on various social media platforms reported having to go see for themselves that those Tweets actually happened and weren’t a meme.

Musk even resorted to having staff members post inflated Twitter traffic numbers so he could repost them, when in reality Threads reaching 100 million users in five days makes it the fastest growing social media platform in history by a longshot, while Twitter’s numbers have been declined since January and reached an all-time low this month in July. In the meantime, Musk is blocking links to the rival Threads and denying the decline of Twitter traffic.

For me, the transition was seamless and delightful. I received a few “warnings” and pessimistic messages from people who were skeptical about the new platform—mildly Trumpy, conspiracy theory crap—for example about privacy. Really? First, if you’re sending me a direct message via Facebook or Instagram to warn me about privacy concerns on Threads, the call is coming from within the fucking house.

Second, if you came to me to defend Twitter, I’ve been on Twitter since it began. The fact that I even have the username @marymac is an indication of that. I’ve been on for so long that Barack Obama follows me and until he doesn’t, I’ll stay—sometimes to cheer myself up I go to his page to see “Barack Obama follows you” and I won’t even use my favorite cusswords on Twitter because of it. Other than that, my follower numbers go down all the time as old accounts (and liberals) fade out or delete accounts, and I mostly just go to post my latest articles. Since Musk took over and I can’t trust the trending topics which is where I used to go for reliable news, I don’t spend any substantial time there.

And last, the main argument against Threads seems to be that you “can’t delete it unless you delete your whole Instagram.” So what? But also, since there is backlash against that, Meta has already announced they’re looking into it, along with a bunch of other updates, so I’m sure it will be fixed. My biggest complaint against Meta is that I'm under some kind of weird shadowban on IG (like for years) and they also blocked my ad account for no apparent reason a few years ago and it has impacted my business. Their lack of meaningful, accessible customer service for businesses to address issues—just so I can boost posts again (to take my money?) has been incredibly frustrating.

But I love the Threads app. It is friendly, cozy, conversational, and feels like the earliest days of Twitter before it became a cesspool of advertising, convoluted algorithm swampland, and most recently, a playground for Musk’s right-wing agenda. If they can make tweaks without too many radical changes, I think it'll become the go-to social media for many. It’s already the first one I open in the morning.

—Follow Mary on Threads

  • I'm on it too (as you know, Mary, since you just followed back). https://www.threads.net/@kennethsilber As well as on Post.news and more. But nothing looks likely to match Twitter in its heyday. Which as Noah Smith has written, is a good thing, in that it's not necessarily beneficial for everyone to be on the same platform.

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