Threads Is the Perfect Twitter Alternative, Just Not for You¶
Silicon Valley could well be built on the principle of scrapping principles. Now Elon Musk, perhaps the ultimate tech bro, is shredding another well-regarded convention with an original business strategy.
Generally, in business, it is sensible to provide your customers with what they want. With Twitter, the meme-makers' favourite billionaire is doing the opposite. The cyber-trucker is trying his best to cull his customer base. Instead of finding gaps in the market, Musk is helping to create them. Ever the copycat, Mark Zuckerberg wants to give these innovative tactics a try. Enter the-company formerly-known-as-Facebook's rival to the birdsite: Threads.
The Zuck is, by all accounts, good at making social media platforms. This doesn't mean the platforms themselves are good - they aren't. But they are unarguably successful: Instagram and WhatsApp have comfortably over a billion users, Facebook has nearly three. If only half of these users adopt the new platform, it would instantly eclipse Twitter. As it happens, Threads allows you to import all your followers from Instagram. Of all the Twitter alternatives, Zuckerberg's looks like the most promising.
Here, however, the promise ends.
The man behind Facebook has somehow managed to make the Twitter experience worse. Following people, a key part of the social media mogul's earlier ventures, is meaningless on Threads. You are beholden to its algorithm and who it reckons you will interact with. (Want to see what your mates are posting about? Tough, here's an 'Epic Meme from the official Salesforce account.') Your timeline isn't chronological either.
And this is where it gets clever. Say you tire of blue-tick brands shitposting, and want to delete your account? Hard luck. Like an ill-advised tattoo, Threads accounts are effectively permanent. If you delete your Threads account, your Instagram account goes too. You're locked in this shiny pit of brand based flimflam, and your Instagram account is hostage.
Threads is what would happen if Twitter and Instagram made out in a bowling alley. It's all their worst parts combined - but it may well succeed. Rocket-man Musk's changes to Twitter have not exactly made it 'brand friendly'. Threads, meanwhile, is shaping up to be a paradise for in-your-face brands - and the AdTech industry would love for you to join them. As Chris Black put it, Threads is just 'another marketing channel masquerading as a community.' When the site inevitably introduces ads, the scared Twitter advertisers will flock. A TechCrunch headline ran 'You can’t post ass, Threads is doomed'. It should have run: 'You can't post ass, Threads will boom'.
Despite cut-and-pasting a dying social media site, the Zuck won't be worried. If anyone knows how to transform bland technology into profit it's him. Aside from providing a platform for asinine hot-takes, Threads' main purpose is to hoover up and auction off data. Unlike Twitter, Meta's microblogging venture has strict moderation. When advertisers bore of Musk's manic antics you know where they'll go.
Threads' naffness won't stop its success. It's data-scraping fluffily dressed up as substandard corporate twaddle. It's a cringe-inducing privacy invasion. It's not meant for users, but that doesn't really matter: you're not a user, you're a product.