threading the needle

updated: july 2023

We are in the extremely early innings of a new platform: I don’t know how it will play out. I'm also a Meta-skeptic but I do appreciate copying and pasting competition and Zuckerberg's ability to execute.

The following is just a collection of my ~opinions~ after a couple of days as a user. Let’s get thready have a little mosey.

Threads is “Instagram’s text-based conversation app” where “communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow.” The app is effectively a text-heavy Instagram (with media support). You must use the same username and most of your following can be ported over (opt-out).

By most measures, Threads is actually good. Its onboarding is great. It carries over your followers easily—giving you an audience from day 0. It functions well, except for some glitches and UI oddities.

Sounds like a good start? And yet... it’s boring. Celebrities and blueticks (who might not be as accustomed to writing as a medium) seem to have a dominant grasp over the "homepage".

entering quickly

"Our vision is to take the best parts of Instagram and create a new experience for text, ideas, and discussing what's on your mind. I think the world needs this kind of friendly community, and I'm grateful to all of you who are part of Threads from day one."

Threads is now the fastest consumer app to reach 100M users (surpassing ChatGPT's pace). Meta has it easy here. It easily carts over your IG followers during onboarding. It also leverages Meta infrastructure which is an obvious and instant win over alternatives like Bluesky that are slowly allow-listing new users to cope with demand.

why now

With changes to Twitter (including its now infamous rate limiting) and its vacillating leadership, Meta launched Threads a day early—aiming to capture some of the general "Twitter fatigue". Twitter has an increasingly poor and pervasive ads experience which has also led users to look elsewhere.

It's hard to tell what happened in the days following but per Cloudflare CEO, Twitter traffic is "tanking". Twitter execs responded (mostly unkindly). However, I suspect a lot of this traffic came from web crawlers including ChatGPT that were recently barred from using the API. In a leaked document, Meta is seen courting influencers to be on Threads from day 0: they're taking this seriously!

what's missing?

"There is nothing revelatory or novel about what’s happening on Threads (except maybe for the career posters trying their best to troll Zuckerberg, shoutout Katie Notopolous); for now it’s simply a much less interesting version of Twitter, an echo chamber for locals to gif-reply to Tom Brady.

“Billionaire tech bros dont seem to understand people just want to read some anonymous outback line cook posting shit like ‘she grunk on my grink’ interspersed with breaking news,” tweeted Andrew Lawrence, and this has always been the beauty of Twitter that, as of yet, nobody’s really been able to replicate."

We’re still early! If Threads can accommodate the weirdness of internet culture, it will be a strong competitor. If it doesn’t, it will become a text- heavy Facebook, doomed to be the meeting point of puns, engagement- bait Threadsetters, and D-list celebrities.