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Facebook Is Having Its Google+ Moment
Did you ever think to yourself, "You know, Twitter would be so much better if the guy from Facebook ran it?" No? Neither has anyone else.
Meta, the company that owns both Facebook and Instagram, has released a new app that is meant to be a direct-competitor to Twitter—Threads. Apparently this new app has been in the works for a little while with rumors circulating, but I had no idea whatsoever that Meta was working on this. I simply woke up Thursday morning to the news that Threads had been unveiled to the public.
There have been many would-be Twitter clones or replacements over the years; perhaps the best known would be Donald Trump’s Truth Social which he started after Twitter banned him, and even Substack has its Twitter-like Notes feature; but none of them have come close to actually damaging Twitter in any meaningful way. Now Mark Zuckerberg is throwing his hat into the ring to take Twitter’s spot.
Admittedly, Threads might represent the biggest direct threat to Twitter since it was created. Facebook and Twitter were ostensibly rivals early on, but, while they’re both social media platforms, they weren’t exactly doing the same thing. Maybe most importantly now, however, is that Twitter hasn’t even been anything resembling competition for Meta in a very long time. Both Facebook and Instagram eclipse Twitter in terms of engagement and active users, and Meta is more in competition with companies like Alphabet (Google), Apple, and Microsoft than a simple social media company like Twitter. So Threads, being backed by a company like Meta, is almost certainly a major concern to Elon Musk, and makes his comment to Matt Taibbi that Substack was “trying to kill Twitter” by introducing Notes even more hilarious.
All of that said, this reminds me of another major company creating its own social media platform to directly compete with an already established platform: Does anyone else remember Google+? Google+ was going to kill Facebook by allowing you to put your friends and acquaintances in Circles and then you could choose which Circles to share what content from your profile with, or something. Oh, and Google+ would tie directly into your existing Gmail and YouTube accounts, a bit like how Threads is ever so conveniently connected to your Instagram.
Now Twitter is certainly no Facebook, but it is established in its sphere regardless of how you feel about Elon Musk and it seems to me that the success of Threads is almost entirely in Musks’s hands. If Musk drops the ball and makes a bunch of unforced errors with Twitter then I think it’s possible for Threads to edge them out over time, but if Musk can simply hold the line, let alone turn things around to the positive, then I think Threads will go the way of Google+. Zuckerberg can brag about 30 million sign-ups to Threads in 24 hours, and that’s nothing to sneeze at, but it’s not exactly organic when it’s automatically porting in your Instagram profile. And the corporate media, which hates Elon Musk, is obviously doing everything they can to promote Threads to hurt Twitter, but let’s see how active these users are in a month, six months, and a year and if that growth can be sustained beyond initial excitement and interest in the shiny new social media platform. I’m skeptical.
For my part, I don’t see myself even giving Threads a trial run. The regime currently running Meta is the same regime that was running Meta when they blocked the news story about Hunter Biden’s corrupt dealings with the Ukrainian and Chinese governments from being disseminated across Facebook and Instagram despite it being an obviously true and important story. In other words, Meta was telling me what I can and cannot read or share with my friends and family in a blatant attempt to help Joe Biden win an election. I’m not going to let a company that thinks it can manipulate me also use me as a revenue generator, and I have no use for a platform where I have to censor what I say.
If I had to choose between the two, I’d definitely choose Twitter over Threads, but fortunately there’s a third choice. Substack genuinely believes in and defends the principle of freedom of speech, which Meta certainly does not do and Elon Musk only occasionally, and possibly accidentally, does. Not only that, but, as I said before, Substack also has its own short-form “public conversations” feature called Notes. It could certainly be improved on, but Notes is where you can find me. I’ll support the company that supports my right to say what I think.