Threads Debuts Laden with Frustrating Elements

Read this week ‘s column by Ronaldo Lemos for Folha de São Paulo Newspaper

published in

9 de July de 2023


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Instagram Harnesses User Base to Achieve Unprecedented App Growth

Last week’s focus in the technology realm was on the sudden launch of Threads, a novel platform from Meta aiming to challenge Twitter. In a mere three days, the platform amassed a staggering 80 million users, securing the title of the fastest-growing app to date. The previous record was held by ChatGPT, which reached 100 million users but took two months to achieve the feat.

But what’s the secret to this success? Threads received a potent boost from Instagram, an app boasting a daily user count of 500 million active individuals. In essence, Meta harnessed Instagram’s dominance and capitalized on the discontent directed towards Twitter. Elon Musk’s platform had been retreating inward and making increasingly erratic decisions. It even went so far as to impose a daily reading cap of a thousand tweets on non-paying users. A viral meme depicted a child with a plate in hand begging Musk: “Sir, can I read just one more tweet, please?”

So, what is Threads pinning its hopes on to triumph? Right from the outset, numerous vexing aspects of the platform emerge. To start, there’s an absence of a search tool within the app. A central utility of Twitter lies in its precise ability to scour any term or subject, facilitating real-time engagement in discussions. In its current rendition, Threads has deviated from offering this functionality. The same deficiency extends to “trending topics,” which showcase the hottest subjects along with the ever-popular hashtags. Consequently, these choices create an insular environment for users and hinder searches.

Threads has placed all its bets on an exclusive feed overseen authoritatively by its algorithm. Users are denied the privilege of exclusively viewing posts from those they follow or perusing a chronologically organized feed. The platform’s algorithm calls the shots on your viewing experience. In this regard, Threads borrows a comparable strategy from Tiktok. Essentially, no matter whom you follow, the algorithm scrutinizes what captivates your attention and presents you with related posts, even those from users and accounts you don’t follow. All this in an effort to increase the time you spend on the platform.

The most ingenious maneuver by Threads concerns content moderation. In the Musk-era Twitter, an ethos of free expression took precedence. In contrast, Threads will adhere to Meta’s content moderation rules, already in effect on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. However, in a surprising twist, Threads has embraced an open protocol for its posts. It has aligned with the “ActivityPub” standard pioneered by Mastodon. This protocol forms a network of independent servers that can freely interact with one another. Within this framework, each server establishes its own moderation standards. While Meta’s servers will conform to their well-established norms, nothing inhibits users from other servers from engaging with Threads’ user base and even appearing in the app’s feed. Many of these servers might lack any content moderation whatsoever.

Adopting an “open source” open-standard approach isolates Twitter and places Musk in a tight spot. Whether this is a checkmate scenario remains to be seen. Incidentally, another app created quite a stir upon its launch, only to quickly fade into oblivion: Clubhouse. As the saying goes, the road to success is paved with failure. Could Threads face the same fate as Clubhouse? Only time will tell.

 What’s Out:  Believing it’s possible to have some stability as an internet influencer.

What’s In: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), in other words, the fear of not joining Threads right away.

What’s Next: FOMF (Fear of Missing Followers), meaning influencers’ fear of losing followers and influence when migrating to the new platform.