What Meta should change about Threads, one year in

It’s been a year since Meta dropped Threads to take over the platform now known as X. At the time, Mark Zuckerberg said he hoped it would become “a public conversation app with over 1 billion people.”

Meta’s timing was good. The threads started at a particularly chaotic moment for Twitter, when many people were looking for alternatives. Themes got 30 million signups on its first day and the app has grown ever since Monthly users according to Zuckerberg. (There is an X Monthly users according to Elon Musk.)

But the earliest iteration of Threads was still a bit broken. There was no web version and many . The company has promised interoperability with ActivityPub, the open source standard that powers Mastodon and other apps in the fediverse, but integration is still a work in progress. .

A year later, it’s still unclear what Threads is actually for. Its leader The goal isn’t to replace Twitter, but to create a “public square” and “a less angry place for conversations” for Instagram users. If the Meta really wants to do this, it needs to change.

If you follow me on Threads, you probably know this is my main complaint. But Meta needs to fix the algorithm that powers Threads’ default “For You” feed. The algorithmic feed, which is the default view in both the app and the website, is very slow. It often unearths days-old posts, even in big, newsworthy moments where multiple people are writing about the same topic.

It’s so bad that every time there’s a big news event or trending story, it’s become a meme trying to post something along the lines of “I can’t wait to read about it in my For You feed tomorrow.”

The algorithmic feed is also completely weird. For a platform with Instagram, extremely fine-tuned recommendations, and an app with over a decade of knowledge about the topics I’m interested in, Threads doesn’t seem to be using any of that. Instead, I have a strange preference for intensely personal stories from completely unrelated accounts.

In the past year, I’ve seen countless multi-part Threads posts from complete strangers detailing childhood abuse, eating disorders, chronic illness, domestic violence, pet loss, and other unimaginable horrors. These aren’t the posts I’m looking for by any means, but Meta’s algorithm pushes them to the top of my feed.

I aggressively used Threads’ scrolling trying to get the bait out of extreme trauma dumping and that helped to some extent. But that didn’t increase the number of weird posts I saw completely random persons. The two best posts on my feed right now are from an event planner offering to share wedding tips and a woman describing a phone call from her health insurance company. (Both posts are 12 hours old.) These types of posts have led blogger Max to read Threads the “” because they make everyone feel like they are “suffering from some sort of minor brain damage”.

Look, I understand why Meta is cautious when it comes to content moderation in Threads. The company doesn’t exactly have a lot of experience dealing with issues like extremism, health misinformation or genocidal hate speech. No wonder they want to avoid similar headlines on Threads.

But if he wants Meta Threads to be a “public square”, he can’t It searches for topics like COVID-19 and vaccines because they are “potentially sensitive.” (Instagram head Adam Mosseri claimed the measure was “temporary” last October.) If Meta wants Threads to be a “public square,” it shouldn’t be. political content from user recommendations; and Threads’ leaders should not assume users see the news.

After a year, it’s clear that a platform like Threads is damaged without a proper direct messaging feature. For some reason, the leaders of Threads, especially Mosseri, strongly opposed creating a separate inbox for the application.

Instead, users hoping to connect with someone privately on Threads are forced to switch to Instagram and hope that the person they’re trying to connect with will accept new message requests. There is an in-app path a Threads post to an Instagram friend, but that depends on whether you’re already connected to Instagram.

It’s not entirely clear why Threads doesn’t have its own messaging feature. Mosseri suggested that creating a new inbox for the app doesn’t make sense, but that ignores the fact that many people use Instagram and Threads in very different ways. Which brings me to this…

Meta The reason he was able to get Threads off the ground so quickly was largely because of Instagram. Themes are built using much of Instagram’s code and infrastructure, which has helped the company get tens of millions of people to sign up for the app.

But continuing to require an Instagram account to use Threads doesn’t make sense for a year. First, it shuts down a very small number of people who might be interested in Threads but don’t want to be on Instagram,

There is also the fact that applications, although they share some design elements, are completely different types of services. Many people, myself included, use Instagram and Threads very differently.

A “public square” platform like Threads works best for public accounts, where conversations can have maximum visibility. But most people I know use their Instagram accounts for personal updates like family photos. Although you can have different visibility settings for each app, you shouldn’t be forced to connect the two accounts. This also means that if you want to use Threads anonymously, you’ll need to create an entirely new Instagram account to serve as the login for the corresponding Threads account.

At least that’s what Meta seems to think. Mosseri said with Platformer that the company is “only working on things like Threads accounts” and wants the app to be “more independent.”

These aren’t the only factors that determine whether or not Threads will become Meta’s next 1 billion-user app, as Zuckerberg predicts. Meta will eventually need to monetize the currently ad-free service. But before Meta’s multibillion-dollar advertising machine can focus on Threads, the company will need to better explain who its newest app is really for.

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