Threaded Thoughts

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably know that Instagram (AKA Meta, AKA Facebook) launched Threads a few days ago. It’s another social network for microblogging and is pretty much a clone of a non-bloated Twitter. I’ve been kicking its tires for a few days, and I’ve got some thoughts™:

  • Great name! I’m sure Meta’s glad they held onto it after the last iteration.
    • That icon is pretty great too. It’s, well, iconic in a way that Bluesky’s isn’t.
  • I hate that people I don’t follow are back in my timeline. I’d forgotten how much that bothers me.
    • A few days later, I’m less angry about it. I’ve found a few worthwhile accounts to follow because of it.
      • I said a few though. Don’t get yourself too excited, I still wish I could turn it off.
      • If I had to, I’d settle for seeing non-followed accounts only if it were to give context to a reply made by some I do follow. But I’d still want the option to turn those off completely.
  • It’s so easy to fall back into liking posts willy-nilly after not having them on
    • But I appreciate more than ever’s steadfast commitment to no like” button in favor of more thoughtful replies.
      • I do like Gruber’s observation about what the name implies:

        I don’t think thread is going to take off as a verb for Threads, but it’s a great noun for posts, and it reinforces the notion that you’re supposed to engage with posts by replying.

  • No ActivityPub support at launch is a bummer and it gives me doubt that it’ll ever come to fruition.
    • Also, I’m wary to engage much using my account if I’m just going to ask folks to follow my one true account later.
    • I’ll say that the interviews Adam Mosseri gave to Hard Fork and The Verge rekindle some hope in their commitment to ActivityPub.
  • Way more friends I know in real life are already on Threads. Many who never crossed over into the Fediverse from Twitter, and many more who had never used a microblogging service before (other than Facebook, which I don’t count because its posts aren’t on the open web).
    • And more are joining every day. I’m sure I’m gonna have to turn off these notifications.
      • I’m not sure why I turned them on in the first place.
  • I’ve been searching for a metaphor for help explain the feel of Threads so far, and I think I’ve got it: The exodus from Twitter kind of felt like the start of the Covid pandemic in that my timeline was suddenly a ghost town. Everybody migrated to their own bubbles in Mastodon or Bluesky. With Threads, it’s like when the gathering restrictions were lifted: one big party because seemingly everyone has a Threads-compatible Instagram account. Everyone’s back together once more. It’s chaotic, a little overwhelming, but still pretty fun.
    • That being said, I may retreat back to my bubble for a while until some norms shake out.
  • Is Threads not simply a return to text-first Facebook, but on the open web instead of locked behind a login screen?
    • I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Facebook could have been the go-to blogging service that I think everyone should have, had everything been available on the open web instead of closed within its own silo.
      • Granted, a privacy-abhorrent blogging service, but people don’t seem to care about that anyway.
      • For most of its billions of users, that’s what their Facebook profile amounts to: their personal blog - although, I’m sure they don’t think of it using that term. But without the ability to take their content elsewhere, or put it behind a personal domain name, I’ll never think of it as a true blog.
        • In Threads’ case, audience portability and being mostly publicly available on web are built in. That gets it closer to my idea of a personal blog, but still not quite there.
  • Om Malik makes a good point about how Threads’ success will make it a go-to playbook, and how if Instagram had used it to launch Reels as a separate app it might have similarly taken off like a rocket ship.
  • Meta could have made Threads a tab in Instagram, but it’s definitely a more Apple-y approach to have many apps powered by the same login (think Apple ID), than one monster app with oodles of tabs.
  • Word on the street is that Threads may overcome ChatGPT’s record as the fastest to reach 100 million users. That means they’ll have (potentially) expanded the Fediverse by two orders of magnitude in a matter of days.
    • There will be repercussions for ActivityPub, I’m sure of it.
  • It’s been very cool to see some people discover microblogging for the first time.
  • The lack of a Mac app, web client, or iPad app is a huge bummer. Hopefully they’re coming, but I’m not holding my breath.
  • A few more feature requests:
    • Alt text for more accessible images.
    • They’re really gonna have to fix that thing where it loads a bunch of new posts on launch and you lose your spot. Instagram does the same thing and it’s infuriating.
    • Shortcuts actions to enable at least some form of automated posting.
    • Fix the too many redirects” error when trying to open a Threads link on the web.
    • I’d like to be able to crop a photo as I post it.
    • A Following-only view.
    • Ability to search for post contents, not just usernames.
    • A little clearer notifications tab, and bigger touch targets for post actions buttons to reply, like, quote, etc. (via @mattbirchler)
    • Include the user’s handle in post URLs. (via @gruber)
    • Edit posts, please. I make too many typos.
    • ActivityPub support, of course.
  • I’ve already had a friend text me to ask What are Instagram Threads?” I can assure you that never happened with Mastodon. This thing is going somewhere.

If you’re interested, I’m over there. For now, you’ll get the same microposts there that go on my microblog.

Oh, and if you’re seeing a bunch of people post links to their Threads profile and you’d like to follow them, there’s nothing easier than using Federico Viticci’s Threader shortcut. Honestly, I have no idea how he whipped this up and wrote the excellent introduction blog post within hours of Threads’ launch. Years of practice, I suppose.

Others’ Thoughts on Threads

Threads // John Gruber

A Threads Thread Blog Post // Robb Knight

Threads // Stephen Hackett

Meta Threads a Needle // M.G. Siegler

My Thread hot takes (and why Bluesky might be toast) // Matt Birchler

(I’ve got way too few women and bloggers of color in my RSS reader. I’m trying to fix that and would gladly accept suggestions if you’ve got suggestions on who to follow!)

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