Threads v/s Twitter: Let the Billionaire Cold War Commence

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Meta just launched a ‘friendlier’ version of Twitter. Within a day of it’s launch, Threads gained a whopping hundred million users, thanks to Elon Musk! But the larger question remains, it is going to make social media good again? Read on to know more.

In October last year after Musk overtook Twitter, he started to literally and figuratively, dismantle the organization and finally turned it into, as a piece in The New Yorker put it- “a decaying dinner party to a bar where the bartender has to eject the last swaying patrons.” He fired more than half of the staff and changed the interface and the functionality of the product, pushing users to sign up for paid subscription of the service. Recently, he limited the number of tweets people could view, thus undermining one of the main appeals of Twitter as a real-time news feed.

Twitter’s downfall created room for other similar services namely Mastodon, Bluesky, Spill and many more. Meta CEO Zuckerberg, who for longest time had been obsessed with Twitter. And had tried to buy it twice, saw an opportunity here. Just like it had done before with Snapchat and Tik-Tok, his company was successful in making another copy, called Threads. Bolstered by Meta’s already huge user base, it was declared an early success.

All this, quite predictably, hasn’t gone down well with Musk, who reacted by suggesting that he and Mark Zuckerberg should have “a literal dick-measuring contest”. He also tweeted: “Zuck is a cuck”. Musk has additionally proposed a literal cage fight with Zuckerberg. On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg seems to be having an interesting summer, apart from the success of Threads. He has just welcomed a daughter and has been participating in jiu-jitsu competitions. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about how he might be “cool again”. As Musk has transformed into a rightwing influencer of sorts, in a curious case of schadenfreude, Zuckerberg seems to have gone from the face of all that is evil about Big Tech to having people actively
root for him.

Marketed as a friendlier place to Twitter, the early impression of Threads was largely positive.

“The goal isn’t to replace 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. 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,” wrote Adam Mosseri, head of Threads and Instagram, on the platform.

Logging into Threads for the first time almost felt like the very first day of school, where no one know as of yet who the popular kids are and everyone is just exploring the campus. The enthusiasm was almost nostalgic in some sense, reminiscent of the early days of social media, the rosy era when it felt like it could change the world for good. But Threads isn’t necessarily revolutionary. In a real world scenario, it is just more social media.

Addressing all the talk surrounding this app creating a space for “positive” discourse. Meta has in struggled with creating a safe space on its other platforms in the past.  Take the example of Instagram, which has struggled to contain hate speech and misinformation on its platform, contributing to the worsening of mental health among teens and a rise in eating disorders.  Andof Facebook’s political and privacy sins. Threads itself, after the launch, has had to collide with the reality of the toxicity of the internet. Within 24 hours of its launch, rightwing figures, including white nationalist, Richard Spencer and white supremacist and outspoken anti-semite, Nick Fuentes signed up for the platform. Reuters reported seeing accounts posting about the Illuminati and “billionaire satanists”, while other users called each Nazis and fought over everything from gender identity to violence in the West Bank.

The Threads versus Twitter, or the Zuck versus Musk, discourse isn’t really about a new era of social media or a change in discourse. Threads may descend into the same cycle of spam, trolls and rage-baiting. And the cage match might never happen. But all this confounds the fact that this whole rumble is just an ego-fuelled
row between two men, who, deluded by obscene amounts of wealth, probably aren’t as smart as they might want us to believe and all that the rest of us can do is watch.

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Image Source: The Hindu

Vanshika Ahuja
[email protected]

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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