Social Media

Zuck v Musk: Meta launches its Twitter rival, Threads

- July 6, 2023 2 MIN READ
Cage fight
Most social media users would prefer to see the threatened cage fight between Musk and Zuckerberg in a new pay TV series called Ultimate BSD. Photo: AdobeStock
Today Meta launched its long-awaited new social media product Threads, a Twitter clone that syncs to Instagram accounts and offers a chaotic feed filled with influencers, news outlets, and brands vying for attention.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Threads was intended as “an open and friendly public space for conversation.”

“We hope to take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas, and discussing what’s on your mind,” he said in a thread.

“The world needs a friendly public space for conversation. If we do this well, then Threads can be that space.”

Instagram head Adam Mosseri confirmed that Threads would eventually support the ActivityPub standard which allows for interoperability between social media platforms.

“We weren’t able to finish it for launch given a number of complications that come along with a decentralised network, but it’s coming,” he said in a thread just ahead of the product’s full launch.

Mosseri said ActivityPub integration would let people take their profiles and audiences to another server, like those on prominent distributed service Mastodon.

The imminent arrival of Threads had caused a stir in Mastodon as the users there considered how a tech giant like Meta would impact their communities, with fears that it may adopt a strategy of ‘embrace, extend, extinguish’ and come to own the nascent distributed social web.

Threads has launched at an important time in the internet.

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter last year led to a rise in popularity of so-called ‘fediverse’ platforms that use open standards like ActivityPub in a bit to wrest control of social media away from centralised, for-profit companies that can become suddenly hostile to their userbase.

Reddit has been a prime example of this as it has dealt with labour-style protests from moderators and users as a result of the platform’s API changes.

Zuckerberg took a shot at Twitter within the first hour of Threads’ launch, replying to an open question from UFC fighter Mike Davis by saying that Twitter “has had the opportunity” to become a conversations app with over one billion users “but hasn’t nailed it”.

Musk and Zuckerberg have agreed to fight each other in a cage.

Prior to its launch, the Guardian reported that Threads won’t be immediately available in EU countries because of uncertainty around the bloc’s privacy regulations, specifically the Digital Markets Act which has limitations about sharing data across platforms.

Meta has been notorious for its data and privacy policies that saw the company recently slapped with a $1.95 billion fine for transferring user data to the US from the EU.

Threads is designed to have a simple onboarding process that lets people with Instagram accounts sign up with the press of a few buttons, syncing data across the Meta services.

So far there are limited curation options with everyone being thrown into a massive feed that feels chaotic yet lively.