Mark Zuckerberg goes head-to-head with Elon Musk today, July 6, with the launch of a new social media platform called Threads. Some are terming it the battle of the billionaires since tech experts say the new app is a Twitter clone. But the real question is what folks will be getting at Threads that they don’t have at Twitter.
Meta executives are advertising Threads as a “sanely run” social media site, which liberty-minded folk immediately translate to mean censored. Even before the app’s official launch, critics say it’s just Zuckerberg being Zuckerberg. And what does that mean? First, Meta (the company founded by Zuckerberg) and the owner of Facebook are in a class by themselves when it comes to mining personal information. The company recently settled a $725 million class-action suit for sharing user data without proper disclosures.
The developer of the new app is listed as Instagram, Inc., a Meta subsidiary. In typical Meta fashion, it helps itself to your health and fitness profile, financial information, user content, browsing history, purchases, location, contacts, and much more. Just about the only thing not required for the exhaustive list of information is a user’s blood type. EU privacy laws have found Threads data mining so intrusive that the new app is blocked in much of the European Union.
Twitter lit up with critics like Mario Nawfal, who posted, “Great Tweet on this story, further demonstrating Meta’s COMPLETE lack of care about privacy,” which was followed up by a jab from an Elon Musk tweet, “Thank goodness they’re so sanely run.”
Threads is described as a “text-based conversation app” that can be easily reached by “logging into your Instagram account.” The ease of login with existing credentials appears to be a big selling point – the two apps even share the same name and user picture from Instagram. But lest there be any doubt, everyone and their brother claim Threads is a real threat to Elon Musk’s newest acquisition, which has experienced some bumps in the road since his purchase.
The most recent issue with Twitter revolved around micro-blogging, which forced Twitter to temporarily limit the number of tweets users could read daily. The other problem is its “verified account” initiative, which caused many users to lose their coveted checkmark for a time.
Unsurprisingly the legacy media are lining up on the Threads side, while alternative media remain in the Twitter camp. CBS MoneyWatch headlined the newest Zuckerberg creation: “Meta’s ‘Twitter killer’ app Threads is on its way. Here’s how to get it.” NBC News reported, “Meta to launch conversation app Threads to rival troubled Twitter.”
On the other hand, conservative outlet Breitbart echoed many free speech concerns, saying the “sanely run” app “is likely a euphemism for more censorship.” It reported:
“Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, referred to the app as Zuckerberg’s answer to Twitter during the meeting. Cox told staff that the company had heard from creators and public figures who want ‘a sanely run platform,’ and were responding to that need. This comment shows Facebook plans to censor its new platform as it does both its main platform and Instagram, perhaps using the infamous ‘third-part[y] fact checks’ that it later admitted in court are just opinions.”
If the past is prologue, there is reason to be concerned about Threads. For sure, bad blood flows freely between Messieurs Musk and Zuckerberg. On June 20, Musk tweeted, “I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck’s thumb with no other options. At least it will be ‘sane.’ Was worried there for a moment.”
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