Meta apparently does not plan to develop its new app Threads as a hub of breaking news and world events.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri, who also spearheads Threads, claimed that Meta’s goal is not to replace Twitter but rather to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never embraced Twitter.
“The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter,” he said in a recent Threads post, adding:
“Politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads – they have on Instagram as well to some extent – but we’re not going to do anything to encourage those verticals.”
However, TechCrunch’s Taylor Hatmaker noted that Mosseri’s perspective is concerning for several reasons.
Hatmaker said Facebook has incentivized specific types of content and behavior, contributing to ideological echo chambers and the polarization and extremism seen in global politics today.
“As the former head of Facebook’s News Feed, Mosseri knows all of this, yet seems to be taking away the wrong lessons,” she added.
After facing criticism for its role in the 2016 presidential election and the Stop the Steal movement, which led to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Facebook decided to rebrand and retreat.
It is unrealistic for Mosseri to imply that Meta can create a social network unaffected by politics and hard news, Hatmaker said.
These topics will inevitably find their way onto Threads, potentially leading to extremism and viral misinformation overpowering legitimate news sources.
In fact, Threads has already attracted high-profile individuals connected to the dissemination of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Didn’t take long for the scammers to hit Threads pic.twitter.com/OtTYvtaaOO
— meta-david (️,⚡) (@metadavideth) July 6, 2023
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.
Meta Expresses No Interest in Boosting Journalism
Meta’s disinterest in boosting journalism is evident. The company has a history of extracting value from news organizations while offering little in return, Hatmaker claimed.
It is currently blocking access to news in Canada to protest a law that requires the tech giant to compensate publishers, even though Meta is valued at $745 billion.
She said Mosseri’s perspective on the public square is also misguided.
Instagram and Threads prioritize the integration of normal users with brands, encouraging commercial activity.
However, public squares are not just spaces for trade and commerce; historically, they have been hubs of culture and political discourse.
“Meta’s insistence on a diminished, commodified version of public life stuffed to the gills with advertising fits the company’s narrow vision, but it’s a disappointing if predictable turn for a promising Twitter successor to take so little interest in the world itself,” Hatmaker wrote.
In a recent Threads post, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also slammed Twitter’s strategy, describing Musk’s social media platform as unfriendly.
“It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it,” Zuckerberg wrote when asked on Threads whether the app will be “bigger than Twitter.”
“The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success,” he wrote. “That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently.”
Mark Zuckerberg seems to think Threads can become bigger than Twitter and have 1 billion people on it. “Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it.” pic.twitter.com/4nN5HO9Hh6
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) July 5, 2023
Twitter Threatens to Sue Meta Over Trade Secrets
Twitter has threatened legal action against Meta, accusing the company of stealing its trade secrets.
In a letter dated Wednesday, Twitter lawyer Alex Spiro suggested that the company aims to pursue legal action.
He alleged that Meta hired former Twitter employees who had access to confidential information and trade secrets to develop the new app.
“With that knowledge, Meta deliberately assigned these employees to develop, in a matter of months, Meta’s copycat ‘Threads’ app with the specific intent that they use Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property in order to accelerate the development of Meta’s competing app, in violation of both state and federal law as well as those employees’ ongoing obligations to Twitter,” Spiro wrote in the letter, adding:
“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information.”
However, Andy Stone, Meta’s communications director, has denied using former Twitter engineers for their Threads team.
Nevertheless, Threads seems to be off to a solid start, having attracted 70 million users within just two days of its launch.
The app has also drawn some popular figures like Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, Shakira, and Oprah Winfrey, each of which has millions of followers across Twitter.
It is now on track to acquire over 100 million users within two months, outpacing even the highly successful AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT.
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