Meta’s new Threads app designed “for public conversations,” is meant to be a happy-go-lucky, flower-strewn realm of “kindness,” one that CEO Mark Zuckerberg told MMA fighter Mike Davis is a “friendly place.” As is becoming more clear from the higher-ups in control of the new app, they don’t want Threads to stray anywhere close to being as controversial as Twitter, and that includes de-ranking “hard news.’
Responding to The Verge’s Alex Heath’s question about news on Threads, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said that the company wasn’t looking for any kind of intrusion of real-world politics, issues, or—you know—news, on Meta’s latest social platform. He said that while politics and news will “inevitably” rear its head, the company will not “encourage those verticals.” What this means is that Threads may give more newsy posts short shrift in its current algorithmic-only feed.
“The goal isn’t to replace Twitter,” Mosseri wrote about his new app that was designed from the get-go to do exactly that. “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.”
It’s a line of thought that’s come up a few times since Threads came online, but Meta is already very averse to news in its apps. While Facebook has quit paying publishers for listing news on the app, the company has got itself into a spat with Canada over the country’s new law requiring tech companies to pay news providers for reposting content. Now, both Facebook and Instagram don’t display news links to Canadian users. The country has responded tit for tat by suspending ads on both platforms.
Meta’s threats have worked previously against Australia when that country tried to pass a similar bill. California has also been working on a bill that would require Meta to pay for news, but on Friday, the bill’s main sponsors said they wouldn’t be advancing that legislation until at least 2024.
Mosseri has continued to position Threads as a kindly place for kindly internet users (which itself is an oxymoron). In a video, the Instagram executive said the company made the ability to view who people are following less prominent. The reason, he said, was to “depressurize that number,” adding that “Sometimes people on Instagram are afraid to follow more people because they want to have that sort of follower, follow me ratio.”
Though it might be an attempt to make the app less of a rat race, Meta clearly wants to see Threads become another prime spot for brands, many of which have already glommed onto the platform where they post concurrently with Twitter. The platform doesn’t have ads yet, but those are inevitably coming down the pipeline. Zuckerberg said the plan is to wait until they hit 1 billion users before they “think about monetization.”
Despite Zuckerberg’s promise, the company is already pitching the app to advertisers. Ad Age reported based on a presentation shown to several ad agencies that Meta is trying to position Threads as the new Twitter, so long as it eventually gains features like trending topics function.
Meta’s new Threads app is so popular that Zuckerberg claimed the app has exploded past 70 million signups in just a few days. Sure, a good portion of those users came from Instagram to see what all the fuss was about. Another portion of those are Twitter refugees so desperate for a new oasis beyond Elon Musk’s right-wing conspiracy hellhole that they’re willing to ignore their new benefactor helped invent fucking Facebook.