Just a few days after an extremely successful launch, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri says the new social networking app Threads won’t encourage hard news or politics.
“The goal isn’t to replace Twitter,” he wrote. “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 … Politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads – they have on Instagram as well to some extent – but we’re not going to do anything to encourage those verticals.”
He later added that “politics and hard news are important” but suggested that engagement related to those topics is not worth the scrutiny, negativity or integrity risks. He then suggested that the sports, music, fashion, beauty and entertainment communities could still make Threads a “vibrant platform.”
This is not an achievable goal, at least without some intense interference from Meta. While Instagram is arguably a “nicer” place than Twitter, that’s probably due to its format, which is devoted to photography. Even if you take those users and place them in Threads — which is essentially how the site got to 100 million users in five days — you’re now dealing with a text-based app. And history suggests that non-visual social media apps could tend to gravitate toward, well, politics and news.
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Already there are cracks, as a couple of prominent white nationalists and supremacists have signed up for Threads. You could also argue that an account that tracks Elon Musk’s private jet, which was banned from Twitter and is now on Threads, is “political.” And many Threads users pushed back on Mosseri’s post as a philosophy. “There is literally not a single area in this human life not affected by politics it shows up in our Art, Music, across all aspects of culture,” wrote Lauren Garcia White. “When we refuse to speak on it, as a tactic, we are LESS evolved, less conscious, not more. We don’t become better or stronger or less beautiful because we choose to speak on it. Choose being the operative word.”
While Threads’s parent company Meta has deemphasized news recently on Facebook, any user would be hard-pressed to suggest that FB isn’t filled with news and politics. Mosseri and his team can certainly spotlight or ignore what they want on their app. It’ll be up to the users to decide what Threads is really going to be about.
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