Your Audience Awaits

Some additional thoughts on Meta's Threads

I wrote a quick post on some thoughts about the launch of Threads, which was a way for me to articulate one of the things I've loved about joining the Fediverse – the really social nature of it.

A week or so on, and Threads is up to 100 million users, and there's been plenty of hot takes and commentary posted. I won't be joining. I don't want Meta in my life any more, and I only stay rooted to it because many friends and family have no alternative online presence.

From the commentary, what I have picked up as a giant "plus" is that it's simple and easy to assemble an audience. Many people joining from Instagram inherit the same followers in this new space. And many people want that. Journalists, critics, and media personalities want an audience — that is why they are on social media. It's not about the social aspects - it's the audience.

And that's not what you get in the Fediverse. There are no followers ready to go. There is no easy way to aggregate people into an audience or disseminate your work. There's no algorithm to boost you or pay to promote you.

From discussions in Pivot and Hard Fork — the benefits of Threads is the pre-built audience you have. The fact is the whole application is gamed around giving you an audience. It's also what brands want, what advertisers want – let's remember that the launch of Threads is not a life raft for those seeking refuge from the ever Right-leaning and sinking ship that is Twitter. It's about recruiting those advertisers and revenue. As Twitter tanks, there's a lot of money to be made by those who are ruthless to jump in and provide a viable alternative with the same goals at heart.

Audience = Money

That's it – that's what Threads is: the cannibalisation of Twitter's audience and advertisers.

Finally, I want to say that this whole "distributed" social network thing isn't real. Threads isn't distributed or federated. BlueSky isn't either – there are no other instances, nor is there any operability available.

There is no real effort from Meta to do anything new or embrace new technology – it just saves them from developing their own. They can avoid contributing anything to establishing a standard. Instead, they pick it up straight away – throw a few hundred engineers at it, and make the technology behind real federation - like Mastodon - look unwieldy.

A gap is going to open up between this next set of apps and those currently forming the entirety of the fediverse. One side will be open, the other will focus on an enclosure, trapping users into an ecosystem and audience they can't leave behind.