Threads, Corruption and Lies *

Threads vs Twitter. Concerns about privacy, censorship and antitrust

Threads is not a new social network but rather an extension of an existing one: Instagram.


Threads terrible Terms & Conditions — Video by Greg Johnstone originally published on TikTok (9 July 2023)

Have you tried Threads, the new app by Meta launched to challenge Twitter (aka X) after the acquisition by Elon Musk? If you’re in Europe, probably not (yet?). Anyway, remember that you cannot create a new account on Threads if you don’t have one on Instagram, and if you change your mind after making it, deleting it will also delete your Instagram profile.

Censorship on Threads when criticising Meta

Censorship on Threads when criticising Meta

So Threads is not a new social media network, but rather an extension or new format offered to users of a pre-existing platform (Instagram), adding a new ad placement to Meta Ads – badly performing after the iOS 14 update that killed its conversion tracking method. Still, Threads has numerous limitations in features and reach compared to Twitter and missing the link with Instagram probably would have resulted in slower user growth.

Threads users are subject to the same ultra-invasive privacy policies typical of any Meta platform. They are already the cause of numerous violations of current regulations and huge fines worldwide.

Let’s remember the risk for Meta of a severe antitrust fine when it should separate the platforms by occupying an additional slice of the market without paying the price of customer acquisition, which represents a significant investment fundamental for any new player in the market of social media platforms.

Let’s also remember that a big share of Instagram users are not real people but brands and that a real person can manage numerous profiles, making the number of accounts grow almost exponentially, which does not correspond to real people, as often stated by Meta.

Threads apply severe censorship to content that Meta does not like but leaves out others that should be removed (for example, some fake news and vulgar political propaganda). However, they are repeatedly reported by users.

Thread hiding the feed in Europe even when using a VPN

Thread hiding the feed in Europe even when using a VPN

The last aspect not to be overlooked is the fact that Threads is not available in Europe (now not even with a good VPN, like NordVPN, as the feed is obscured) to avoid the risk of sanctions, which is logical in the face of so many violations, as well as the absence from other primary markets such as Russia (due to the geopolitical situation), China (due to censorship), and many other countries, will never allow the platform to achieve relevant results on a par with Twitter. So far, it’s just a cost.

A well-known Italian politician of the past, Giulio Andreotti, used to say that “Thinking ill of others makes one a sin, but often one guesses“. One would think that Threads was created to achieve mainly three objectives. The first may be a desperate attempt by Meta to reverse the negative trend after failures on various fronts due to arrogance and strategic mistakes. Among these: a drop in social ads performance, the vertical collapse of Facebook – now a platform dominated by trolls and boomers – to the failure of the expensive Metaverse adventure, that caused massive layoffs to contain costs, and the loss of users on the extremely intrusive WhatsApp messaging app in favour of safer alternatives, such as Telegram and Signal.

Instagram used to be a platform centred on photography, but, after copying the idea of stories from Snap, despite the growing criticism by users, it turned into a bad TikTok clone, full of advertising. Younger generations tend to prefer platforms such as BeReal or the new photo-based social network Lemon8, recently launched by ByteDance, the Chinese giant owner of TikTok. Other social media platforms are rising—the distributed Mastodon or Bluesky, currently invite-only.

Meta platforms have regular bugs and are often down. Not to mention frequent scandals, whose Cambridge Analytica is only the most known. Thousands of users have been locked out with no support, losing access to their data and network and, in many cases, their business pages currently abandoned (conversations on Reddit or comments to Meta official channels can give an idea about the growing anger among users).

Beyond tech gossip, figures tell more about the current market penetration and users’ appreciation. For example, how’s Threads performing vs Twitter on mobile stores? To date (19 July 2023), on Google Play, targeting Android devices, Threads reached a rating of 3.3 based on 152K reviews, while Twitter had a higher rating (4.1/5) based on 21.1M reviews, way more considering its age. On the App Store by Apple, targeting iOS devices, Threads reached an average rating of 3.8/5 based on 19.9K reviews, while Twitter reached a very good score of 4.6/5, based on 7.6M reviews. Mobile users seem to prefer Twitter on both stores.

Another interesting point to consider is the heated rivalry between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, which will probably lead to an unusual physical confrontation which is not the place to talk about here. Finally, there could be a certain pressure or at least interest from the US Democratic establishment to migrate users to a platform owned by a more friendly company like Meta, which brings a lot of sensitive user data to the insatiable NSA and might be more malleable in terms of newsfeed algorithm during the next electoral campaign. Twitter’s boss, instead, on some occasions, has shown sympathy for a Republican candidate and claims to promote free speech worldwide – with some limitations only aimed at preventing full censorship by governments hostile to protests. It is a large club of censors. The next to join could be French President Macron, back from heavy protests that have drastically eroded his electoral appeal.

Regarding the Zuckerberg vs Musk topic, the stock price trend Meta vs Tesla below tells more than words regarding real figures — Twitter is not listed. Still, its owner’s main company, Tesla, had amazing growth, incomparable with Meta, whose recent value increase after the low peak in November 2022 is still far from being a success. Different industries, of course, but money is the same for both. And Musk has other extremely lucrative and promising initiatives on his portfolio that probably rank him as the most successful entrepreneur of the last century (or more), whatever the fight outcome.

Meta Inc vs Tesla stock price trend


So, probably it’s wiser to stay away from Meta and its lies. The company has never created anything new but only stolen or acquired other people’s ideas. It does not listen to users (painful or, better, totally absent customer service unless you pay for verification, another idea stolen to Twitter) and profits exclusively on your most precious and irreplaceable assets: your time (mostly wasted watching or reading nonsense, political propaganda and advertising) and your privacy, since it spies your usage, preferences and habits beyond privacy legislation and ethical boundaries.

Meta Facebook Mark Zuckerberg Election User Data Saudi Arabia Fun

How will Threads cope in the next few months or years? Difficult to make a realistic forecast in such an extremely volatile, albeit polarized context. Time will tell…

* Yes, I love New Order.

Read also: Thread: all mouths and trousers, published on DataDrivenInvestor (Medium).

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(former Twitter)

Download the new X social media icon free transparent PNG - former Twitter