Meta’s new social media app Threads has attracted 70 million users within just two days of its launch, some of which include popular banned Twitter users.
“70 million sign-ups on Threads as of this morning,” he wrote. “Way beyond our expectations.”
Launched on Wednesday, Threads is a new text-based social media app deeply intertwined with Instagram.
It acts as a standalone app linked to Instagram, allowing users to port over their accounts to the new platform, log in with their existing Instagram credentials, and maintain their handle and verification status.
Resembling the familiar look of Twitter, Threads allows users to post text and links, respond to or repost messages, and importantly, port over their existing follower lists and account names from Instagram, which boasts over 2 billion users.
Notably, Instagram will support users in migrating their followers to Threads by sending notifications recommending that they follow them on the new platform.
The app has already claimed the top spot among free apps on Apple’s App Store in the US, which shows its growing popularity.
Threads Becomes Hotbed For Banned Twitter Users
The remarkable growth of Threads has not come without controversy.
Investigations by Bloomberg and independent researchers have revealed that among the early adopters of Threads are individuals connected to the dissemination of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech on Twitter and other social media platforms.
“We’re already seeing plenty of high-profile accounts that have been known to spread harmful and misleading content,” Melanie Smith, head of research for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s US arm, told Bloomberg in an interview.
Jack Posobiec, a far-right journalist known for anti-Semitic and white supremacist views, Tim Pool, a YouTube commentator accused of spreading right-wing misinformation, and Chaya Raichik, an anti-LGBTQ influencer and creator of the satirical Libs of TikTok accounts, are among the more notable banned users that have joined the app.
Threads has implemented certain safeguards against harmful content by adopting the user policies of Instagram. If users attempt to follow accounts previously flagged for spreading misinformation, they receive a warning message asking for confirmation.
For those impressed with the 50M users in the first 24hrs for #Threads look at the first spike for Google+.
— Bernardo Hernandez (@BernieHernie) July 7, 2023
However, these safeguards have not barred Posobiec from posting insults against transgender individuals on Threads, alongside falsely claiming that the 2020 election was rigged.
Raichik, using the Libs of TikTok username, has also targeted transgender people in her posts, reveling in the potential controversy they might generate.
“I love the fact that my existence on this app triggers the left so much,” she wrote shortly after signing up.
Likewise, Joseph Mercola, known for spreading false claims about Covid-19 and its vaccines, has created an account on Threads, gathering a significant following despite remaining inactive on vaccine-related content.
Far-right news outlets such as Breitbart News and The Gateway Pundit have verified accounts on the app but have yet to contribute much content.
Additionally, state-run Russian news outlet Sputnik has established Threads accounts, although it has yet to make posts.
Given Meta’s previous inability to effectively moderate and govern its other platforms, Smith has urged caution among Threads users.
“This is a social media app that is owned by Meta who have failed consistently in governing and moderating other platforms that they own,” she said.
Meta’s Threads Already Faces Various Issues
Threads has encountered a series of challenges since its launch, leaving users with a mixed experience.
One of the primary issues faced by users is the lack of a desktop version. Many individuals rely on desktop access to scroll through social media while at work or to give their eyes a break from constantly staring at their phones.
Another point of contention is the app’s feed. Users familiar with Twitter’s algorithmic “For You” tab, which often presents clickbait and viral content, are disappointed by Threads’ inability to provide options to view posts exclusively from accounts they follow or in chronological order.
This limitation detracts from the user experience and diminishes the sense of control over one’s feed.
There have also been concerns regarding accessibility features for users with disabilities.
“Threads was shipped without basic accessibility functions like an alt text field or an in-app captioning tool,” Alexa Heinrich said on Twitter.
Furthermore, Threads raises privacy concerns. Mandatory disclosures required on iOS reveal that the app may collect highly sensitive user information to create detailed profiles of individuals’ digital activities.
This includes health and financial data, precise location, browsing history, contacts, search history, and other sensitive information.
In fact, for this reason, the Irish regulator, the Data Protection Commission (DPC), has stated that the new service will not be rolled out in the EU.
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