It’s called the “Twitter Killer.” Meta’s Threads aims to be a more cheerful and warm alternative to other microblogging sites. But what will another social media platform do to the rest of us?
Threads is on track to cross 100 million users soon, according to a Search Engine Journal analysis based on the number of badges on Instagram profiles, which shows when account holders have joined Threads. On Friday, Zuckerberg said Threads had already reached 70 million users. For context, ChatGPT reached 100 million users in two months, TikTok reached that mark in 9 months, and Instagram reached 100 million users in 2.5 years, Search Engine Journal said.
Writing in Threads, Zuckerberg said the sign-up rate for the microblogging site was “far beyond our expectations.”
Psychologists and social media analysts are skeptical, not so much about the potential success of Threads and the buzz it’s already created, but about how another social media platform will affect mental health, political discourse, spread of misinformation and the amplification of racism and racism. hate speech, something Zuckerberg has tried to address. Privacy experts also worry about the information Threads can collect from your phone: your location, browsing and purchase history, even your health information.
Facebook owner Meta META launched its new Twitter platform on Wednesday, allowing Instagram’s 2.35 billion users to import their ID and followers. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Threads will be a “friendly” rival to Twitter, which was bought by Elon Musk last year. However, one of Threads’ own policies isn’t so friendly: if you delete it, your Instagram account will also be deleted, along with all those memories you’ve stored over the years.
““This behemoth has become the most influential thing that exists for man.”“
Dr. Don Grant, National Advisor for Healthy Device Management at Newport Healthcare, has worked on the relationship between people and their devices for 14 years and understands that social media brings people together. But looking at the proliferation of fake news and political pushback on Twitter, he’s also aware that it’s tearing them apart more and more. Studies have linked social media to body dysmorphia among young people and depression. They, and we, compare ourselves and despair. Social media and smartphone apps have also been shown to be addictive.
Grant’s first thought when he read about Threads was, “Why? Let’s all go back to MySpace. What happened to MySpace? MySpace was fun. MySpace was friendly. And Classmates.com. I found some friends from high school. I don’t know if we need any of it.”
He worries that young people are the “virtual canaries” in the coal mines of social media. “It’s unchecked. Anyone can go on social media platforms,” he told MarketWatch. “This behemoth has become the most influential thing that exists for man. Anyone can put anything out there.”
See also: Social media offers us two options: Orwell’s hell or Huxley’s
Sander van der Linden, professor of social psychology at Cambridge University and author of “Foolproof: Why We Fall for Misinformation and How to Build Immunity,” sees more fragmentation with the launch of another Twitter-like forum and Truth. Social, the conservative platform created by Trump Media & Technology Group, which only has a couple of million monthly active users.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing that there are so many social networking sites,” van der Linden told MarketWatch. “Echo chambers erode conversation and discourse. But we don’t want one company to dominate the market. When people fragment into their own echo chambers, some of these effects are amplified. People who they disagree with mainstream media and blame censorship are more extreme in these echo chambers, reverberating their own information without any quality control.”
““Echo chambers erode conversations and discourse. But we don’t want a single company to dominate the market.”“
Grant agrees. “Do we need anything? The idea of competition and checks and balances is fantastic,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We’ve seen many come and go. But I don’t like monopolies. This is just another piece to the Meta ‘fediverse’: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and now Threads. This it’s a lot of control over a lot of people on a lot of platforms.”
Facebook alone has almost 3 billion monthly users. Meta’s fediverse, in theory, connects and shares information across platforms.
Meta, Twitter and Truth Social did not respond to requests for comment.
Van der Linden has advised Meta on how to counter misinformation, but he’s not confident that toxicity won’t rear its head on Threads as it has on other social media platforms. “I’m pretty skeptical that the incentives aren’t driven by ad revenue, polarization and outrage,” he said. “Until we have clear evidence that Meta has radically changed its business model, I think we’ll just have another social media platform, another one to worry about in terms of the potential spread of misinformation and how to debunk it.” the. .”
Related: That social platform “Thread” existed years before Meta’s new app, and could sue, experts say
Dr. Emma Svanberg, a clinical psychologist based in London and author of a book called “Parenting for Humans,” said people were excited about Threads, hence the high number of early sign-ups. “The simplicity of Threads seemed to appeal to our essential need for community,” he told MarketWatch.
Svanberg sees this as a positive sign that people are looking for friendlier places to share information. “While we talk a lot about the downsides of social media, there is also evidence to show that it can have benefits, including connecting with others, education and activism,” she added.
““The simplicity of Threads seemed to appeal to our essential need for community.”“
But many psychologists, economists, and activists also say that the problems caused or exacerbated by social media—whether political, social, or psychological—should be addressed by the people who use these platforms, by government regulation, and by the social media companies themselves. Social Networks.
The American Psychological Association has a number of suggestions for how users can deal with the harmful effects of social media, including setting so-called barriers, such as limiting the time they spend online, turning off notifications from apps, don’t bring phones to the table, restaurant or indeed to bed.
Another approach could be to assign credibility scores to individual accounts based on a combination of data related to the quality of their output, van der Linden said. “Install reputation incentives so people don’t say total bullshit and have more user-directed input,” he said. “A click assumes you want more of something, but people are engaging with content they don’t want. Instead, ask people what kind of content they want.” It also promotes “preemptive resilience,” an approach in which platforms warn users about misleading content related to politics or climate change.
Paul Romer, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has suggested that the government impose a tax to tax advertising revenue from social media companies like Meta and search engines like Google GOOG.
to encourage them to change their current business models where customers are essentially the product, exchanging their information for free services.
Grant said that money could be used for media literacy programs. “They need to start early,” he said, “especially for kids, so they understand the difference between misinformation and cyberbullying.”
The social media fight continues: Musk accuses Meta of misappropriating Twitter’s “trade secrets.” Meta denies these charges. Still, this aspect of the launch can’t be described as friendly.