Meta claims that over 10 million people have registered for its new social media platform, Threads, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg characterizes as a “friendly” alternative to Twitter.
“Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads,” Zuckerberg announced in his inaugural post on the platform, describing it as a “text-based conversation app.” Users are permitted to publish posts with a maximum of 500 characters, and share links, photos, and videos.
Threads is directly integrated with Instagram, another platform owned by Meta, which boasts over 2 billion users. The new service, which is being introduced in more than 100 countries for iOS and Android, is positioned as a direct competitor to Twitter.
“Our ambition is to maintain its friendliness as it grows. I believe it’s feasible and will be a crucial factor in its success,” Zuckerberg posted on Wednesday, presenting the service as a healthier alternative to Twitter. “Twitter’s relative lack of success, in my view, stems from this issue and we intend to approach it differently.”
However, issues around data privacy and censorship have arisen. Former Twitter owner, Jack Dorsey, underscored the substantial amount of data that Threads collects. Journalist Michael Shellenberger also expressed his concerns:
According to Shellenberger, Threads began covert censorship of users within hours of its launch, without providing a right of appeal.
Threads issued a cautionary warning upon accessing Utley and O’Hanley’s profiles, ‘Are you sure you want to follow…? This account has repeatedly posted false information.’ –
Rogan O’Handley, a lawyer and vocal Trump supporter, immediately was ‘unpersoned’ by the Twitter imitator.
Just downloaded and signed up for the new Meta app “Threads” meant to imitate Twitter
I posted once about wanting to expose Biden’s corrupt government and they’ve already flagged me for censorship
Great platform Zuck pic.twitter.com/2RhusHRo7v
— DC_Draino (@DC_Draino) July 6, 2023
The Twitter user Derek Utley also ran afoul of the censors right away.
.@meta /IG just released their new threads platform and I’ve been informed by multiple users that I’m censored on their new platform.
— Derek Utley (@realDerekUtley) July 6, 2023
Threads is already censoring legitimate political debate, as well, according to reports.
Instagram is already censoring a new account simply dedicated to stopping a a highly controversial bill making its way through the California legislature. https://t.co/CEvmnPULdb
— Jonathan Zachreson (@JZachreson) July 6, 2023
Meta already wields enormous power, controlling the content much of the public can access, Shellenberger adds in his “Public” Substack post. He points out that should Threads succeed, it will command 80% of the global market outside of Russia and China, according to industry insiders. It’s therefore plausible that Meta will impose censorship in line with the desires of large news media corporations like the New York Times and corporate advertisers. This increased censorship is exactly what mainstream news media, big corporations, and their celebrity representatives have been calling for, he adds.
Unlike Twitter, Threads gathers data about ‘Health & Fitness,’ ‘Financial Info,’ ‘Sensitive Info,’ and ‘Other Data.’ What does ‘other data’ imply? Thus, Threads is already being called out as a vast “data-mining” enterprise.
Prominent figures such as Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have joined the new platform, although Ocasio-Cortez encountered issues after only five minutes.
I was on threads for 5 minutes but now I think my app is bricked 😭 it was just as I hit send on a long post of Queens food recommendations
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 6, 2023
Ultimately, these high-profile users, such as Democratic politicians and mainstream media journalists, may be willing to tolerate bugs in the Threads software if that means a “safe space” to purvey their ideological views without being challenged by independent and conservative voices.
However, other social platforms seeking to rival Twitter, such as Donald Trump’s Truth Social, Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky, and Mastadon, have failed to attract a sufficiently large user base to break into the mainstream.