This morning you woke up to yet another social media platform trying to emulate (or take down) Twitter. Dubbed Threads — which is rightfully causing consternation amongst British users who grew up watching a horrific 1984 film about nuclear annihilation with the same name — this new app marks Meta’s attempt to pry people away from Elon Musk’s devolving social platform.
It’s still the early days, so it’s hard to get a grasp on what we like and what we don’t like about Threads, as certain aspects of the app could change in the next few weeks. For now, it adheres fairly closely to Twitter’s format, with some advantages, concerns and one particular Twitter feature that Threads desperately needs to copy if users like me are ever going to switch over.
First, let’s note that Threads seems to be successful right out of the gate, meaning it already has an advantage over Bluesky, Mastodon and whatever other Twitter alternatives have popped up recently. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims 10 million signups in the app’s first seven hours of launch, inevitably helped by the fact that you can use your Instagram to log in.
And that Instagram synergy is both a plus and minus: It makes it easy to sign in and follow users, and Threads will fall under the same content guidelines as IG. You can control who can mention you or reply to you within Threads. And you can also add hidden words to filter out replies to your threads that contain specific words.
However, if you cancel your Threads account, you’ll have to delete your Instagram account. And given the privacy issues associated with parent company Meta, Threads actually won’t be available in the EU at launch. Users will also be subject to the same algorithmic issues that plague most other social media sites (meaning, you’ll be seeing stuff you didn’t sign up for or necessarily care to see).
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And that’s why Threads is a non-starter for me, at least right now. Because my workaround for Twitter — one that allows me to see the content I want in chronological order with little or no “suggested” material — is currently unavailable in Zuckerberg’s supposed “Twitter killer.”
And that Twitter workaround is called Lists. Some people use this curated option to create micro feeds, which greatly helps reduce unwanted content and keep tweets from a select group of people — usually grouped by subject — in one central spot. While clicking on “For You” or “Following” opens a user up to the usual Twitter algorithmic cesspool, Lists is exactly the information and updates I want. I have Lists for sports, NYC transit and shopping, for example, where I follow a select group of people or organizations, roughly about 20-200 per List, without getting bogged down in arguments about politics, vaccines or whatever inane subject is currently “trending.” (Threads also lacks the wonderful chaos of Weird Twitter, at least in its current alignment.)
Again, Threads shows promise but also subjects you to a single, algorithmic-assisted feed. Then again, given Musk’s temperament and obsession with Twitter Blue, Lists may very well not survive at Twitter, as it offers users almost too much control over what they see.
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