I started using social networking in the days of Usenet and online services, such as CompuServe, GEnie, and Prodigy. I am still a heavy social-network user. Now, aside from the usual, I’m also into newer, potential Twitter alternatives, including Bluesky, Counter Social, Mastodon, and T2. Recently, I joined the latest, Meta’s Threads — and I was not impressed.
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Starting from the top, Threads should be a more text-friendly version of Instagram. In fact, you must have an Instagram account to get a Threads account. Personally, I would have added more functionality to Instagram, but that’s just my opinion.
However, you can only use Threads through an Android or iOS application. Today, some people can easily write text on their phones. I am not one of them. Sure, I can text a few words, but even 280 characters on Twitter is a challenge for me. And I’m not alone. Give us “talking” through the keyboard and a web-based interface already. After that, all other social media services are created.
I also like to go to social networks for breaking news, especially Twitter (before it got toxic). You won’t see that in Threads, either. In a discussion about Threads, Instagram and Threads boss Adam Mosseri told The Verge’s Alex Heath, that the “incremental engagement or revenue” from getting into “politics or hard news” isn’t worth it. Instead, you can talk — or share pictures — of sports, music, fashion, beauty, entertainment, and more. In other words, it’s a bit like Instagram.
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And that by design, Mosseri explained: “The goal is not to replace Twitter. The goal is to create a public square for the communities of Instagram that have never accepted Twitter and for the communities of Twitter (and other platforms) are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not everyone on Twitter.”
Yet serious discussions need not be tempered. It’s just that Twitter has embraced outrage by welcoming back previously banned users and extremists.
I have nothing against fluffy topics. My social-networking followers know that I love cats, dogs, dad jokes, Marvel movies, and Broadway musicals. But, I also care about more serious topics, like news and views on technology and business — and, yes, sometimes, politics too. I don’t like the idea of a PG-13 social network.
Speaking of light and easy topics, you can’t – at the moment – add GIFs natively to your Threads posts. There is a GIF workaround, using third-party keyboards, but I don’t know why that functionality wasn’t built in from the start.
Threads should also be a chronological thread option. Facebook is notorious for messing with your feed, so you won’t receive messages in chronological order.
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In Threads, it’s even worse. The app shows you a rough mix of posts from people you follow and recommended content from people, groups, and companies you don’t like. At this point, you can’t decide what’s recommended — rather, that’s Meta’s call.
And I think, that’s crazy. Say you want to talk to your friends about a baseball game in real time, which is a trivial task on other social networks. Good luck trying to have that chat on Threads as the social network is currently under construction.
A related problem is that ads are integrated into your feed. Worse, there is no easy way to tell them from the real messages. This issue is really annoying. And by the way, I don’t really want to buy a Barbie’s Dream House. Seriously, no.
You can improve your reading experience by going to the top of your Profile page. Once there, tap the top right icon with two bars. This will take you to Settings. From here, go to Settings / Notifications / Threads and replies to toggle your notification options. It’s not a perfect solution, but it helps.
Another problem with Threads is that I don’t know when someone has tagged me in their post, unless I was offended by their message. That kind of meeting is not a way to start a conversation.
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Meta also promises that it will support “decentralization” soon, which means you’ll be able to talk to your friends on other social networks that support the ActivityPub protocol. Today, Mastodon is the most popular social network that supports this method. It’s usable, but combined with Threads’ chaotic message stream, I didn’t expect much from it early on.
Now, let’s get to security. Privacy may not matter to some of you, but if it does, then Threads is not your friend. But, again, not Facebook or Instagram. Meta’s privacy record is poor; The threads couldn’t be better.
Tristan Louis, an internet veteran and CEO of Casebook PBC, did a deep dive into Threads’ privacy settings compared to other social networks. Louis found: “It’s worse than other social media platforms.”
Louis also said: “Threads want to know EVERYTHING about you, while Twitter is more limited in grabbing its data. Mastodon and BlueSky are clearly trying to fight each other over who got the least amount of data, with Mastodon having a clear lead by far.” Specifically, Meta’s properties track “certain areas, such as political/religious beliefs, sexual orientation, credit score, or health and wellness.” There’s a reason you can’t get a Threads account in the European Union, and privacy is at the heart of it.
The killer thing about threads is that — if you’re one of Instagram’s 1.628 billion users — it’s a bit of a chore to join. If you’re an Instagram member, you can join Threads in less time than reading them. article. What really makes Threads grow is that you can bring all your Instagram friends. Just hit the Import from Instagram button, and you’re good to go. Unlike other new social networks, you don’t have to find your friends again.
Also: How to find your followers and friends on Mastodon
However, that level of integration does not mean guaranteed success. Google also automatically brings users to the latter social network Google+. While I really liked G+, it never really caught fire. Do Facebook and Instagram users really want to be on Meta’s third social network? And the one that’s already like Instagram? Personally, I doubt it.
However, even though Meta isn’t pushing Threads as a replacement for Twitter, Twitter is losing members, and it’s not just because of politics. With the neglect of owner Elon Musk, Twitter continues to fail. People want a new, Twitter-like service, and, thanks to Instagram, Threads is leading the way.
But let’s say you hate Threads — can you stop? No, not yet. You also need to zap your Instagram account to get rid of Threads now. Let me repeat that: if you get Threads, you will also kill Instagram. Meta is working on fixing this, but if you’re a loyal Instagram user, you’re stuck with Threads for now.
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If Meta cleans up the Threads, it will still be a success. Personally, this is my least favorite of all the new social networks. In short, I found it more annoying than useful.
But, while a social network depends on its technology and interface to work, what makes it successful is the people you interact with. If your crew ends up in Threads, you’ll be there too. Right now, you’re more likely to find me on Bluesky and Mastodon, but each to their own.