Threads in Europe
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Threads in Europe

A few weeks ago Facebook (I refuse to whitewash that company by calling it Meta) decided to blackmail European users. The deal was simple. We were coerced. “Accept to pay for Facebook or we will force you to see ads. This was a lose lose situation that the European Union is now fighting. Imagine being given this choice. If you pay you’re going to be rewarding a company that has abused us.

Facebook Never Apologises for Being Immoral

Facebook enabled the spread of a genocidal message, it enabled the spread of disinformation to get both Trump elected and Brexit to be agreed to. It also experimented with making people more than once. Despite all of this Facebook never apologised.

When I was given the ultimatum of Pay up or you have consented for us to use your data they blackmailed us into either paying “protection money”, or being subjected to targeted advertising. It would give Facebook an excuse to say “But they agreed to us abusing of the data we have on them, and using profiling to manipulate them.

Pay or Be Data Mined

I got side tracked. The real issue is that people being given the choice to pay for facebook, or be manipulated Facebook could say “We gave Europeans the choice, and they chose to give their data rather than their money. This isn’t a choice. There are two to three billion users. It has a monopoly position so we can be isolated by not using Facebook, or exploited, by being on Facebook.

The Nuissance of Algorithms

I created my Threads account to preserve my username rather than out of a desire to use the social network. Instagram, Threads and Facebook all have the same problem. They force us to see crap generated by influencers and strangers, rather than friends. You can pay not to see ads, but you can’t pay to avoid the toxic posts by influencers. By toxic I mean anything that may have a negative effect on our mental well being, whether reminding us of our solitude, of our not being at an event, of not being at the right point at the right age in life and more.

Toxic Facebook

Instagram, for me, and many others, is toxic. I believe that Threads will be just as toxic. I noticed for example that we’re encouraged to like, rather than comment. Years ago I found that social media became far lonelier when people started to like rather than comment, reply or other. A like is a metric, a statistic. A comment is personal.

Social Networks Need to Be Organic

Social networks need to be organic. They need to encourage people to converse with each other, and to converse with the friends of friends. Social network should connect like minded people who have the time for each other, at a manageable scale.

After just a few minutes of using Threads I see posts by people with 4000 or more likes, hundreds of comments and more. My response is “I’m being forced to see content by people who will never reciprocate the attention. I am being spammed by influencers and other toxic individuals.

Of course, I could strive for finding something that 4000 people like, or three hundred people comment on but that’s not what social media is about. Social media is about a convivial intimate conversation between tight knit friends that eventually want to meet in person, rather than stay online. Facebook doesn’t encourage organic social network growth. It encourages the cult of personality. It amplifies the sentiment of being alone and lonely, of being ignored.

The Strength of 2006-2007 Twitter

The strength of social networks, including Twitter is that you started from a blank slate. If you had one friend you saw their posts, and their replies. If you had two friends, then you saw the same. The more active your social network became, the larger your circle of friends and contacts. There was a reward for investing time and attention on a social network.

With Threads we don’t have this. We see posts that are chosen by an algorithm that has nothing to do with our social graph. This is noise, and this devalues Threads because we spend more time dealing with noise, than worthwhile posts by friends.

And Finally

One of the greatest problems with Facebook is that it has a monopoly. It has Facebook, Threads, Instagram and Whatsapp. It has over two billion users. Whether you’re an early adopter, a late adopter, or a normal person, people with similar interests are on Facebook platforms so we’re forced to be there as well. Facebook has a monopoly, especially since the death of Twitter.

It’s a shame that social media has become a fight for attention, rather than an organic conversation between friends, colleagues and people who do specific activities together. Now is the time to use Threads obsessively to become visible, but I believe that I will end up feeling more solitude, rather than less.

Threads and the Fediverse

Threads and the Fediverse

A few weeks ago I was completely opposed to Threads being connected and accepted by the Fediverse because I hated the idea of 100 million users flooding a social network with 10 million users. Now that threads has imploded I feel differently.

Now that Threads is the same size as the Frediverse, or at least closer to being the same size, the impact of the two joining up would be diminished. Now is the time when, theoretically, the impact of Threads and the Fediverse merging would be less dramatic.

Still Unwanted

[caption id="attachment_10494" align="alignnone" width="300"]A human looking a Threads, with the Fediverse visible behind. A human looking a Threads, with the Fediverse visible behind.[/caption]

Although the Fediverse and Threads could merge, and be on equal footing, for now, I still don’t want it. Facebook users have a different social media ethic than the Fediverse does. I don’t want to see posts by utilitarians, rather than human beings. I want human connections, not marketers.

The Algorithm

[caption id="attachment_10492" align="alignnone" width="300"]Threads and the Fediverse where the Fediverse is the milky way Threads and the Fediverse where the Fediverse is the milky way[/caption]

Algorithms use machine learning to read posts, assess them, and decide how to share them. The Fediverse is about sharing, and re-sharing, in chronological order. How could Threads read toots, notes, articles and more, without breaching privacy rules?

For now the Fediverse behaves according to who we follow, and what the people we follow share. With algorithms machine learning would make those decisions, destroying the chronological order of things

The question is “how can Facebook adapt to be compatible with the Fediverse?”. In theory it can’t because we’re talking about two different philosophies. One where chronology and follows are king, and the other where algorithms dictate what people see, feel and buy.

A Different Age

[caption id="attachment_10495" align="alignnone" width="300"]A hand holding threads with the Fediverse behind it A hand holding threads with the Fediverse behind it[/caption]

Although I really liked the old Twitter, and social media landscape, when it was unprofitable, that reality has vanished and now we are in the age of Influencers, clickbait, social media as addiction, and more. That’s why the thing that fascinates me the most now, is using WordPress and ClassicPress to play with the Fediverse. When they play nicely together I will be able to blog, and converse from my blog posts, without spending too much time in the Fediverse.

And Finally

Threads Posts get more likes for brands than on Twitter which illustrates why Threads is not interesting for human beings. Social media, for me, is about sharing and caring, rather than utilitarian apathy.

To summarise: Threads is a network for brands to market to people, whilst the Fedivere exists for people to converse, share, and collaborate. If the utilitarianism of Threads comes to the Fediverse, then the Fediverse will lose some of its allure.

Social Networks

Social Networks

Before 2006 we talked about social networks. it’s only with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that the idea of social media emerged. With it came a golden age of online communities where Facebook was for Uni students to keep in contact with each other, Twitter was to microblog about project progress and more, and instagram was a place to share images taken during the daily commute to work, sporting ativities and more.

At the time social networks were small, tightly knit communities that eventually wanted to meet in person, whether at tweetups, barcamps, and unconferences. The pandemic, and mass adoption changed these. The social networks unravelled and they became networks of strangers and friends of friends.

Threads Is Not About Community

Although Threads os over-hyped as a Twitter killer the real Twitter killer is Twitter. Until November people who wanted to flee couldn’t, because it had critical mass. It’s because of cascading mistakes that Mastodon even stood a chance of being noticed, that BlueSky and other apps were spun off, and that Threads was marketed. Threads is not a twitter replacement for the simple reason that it has no chronological timeline to see posts by the people you choose to follow. Threads, like Instagram and Facebook is just a glossy mag, where an algorithm chooses what you see, or don’t see.

Live Radio and WinAmp Analogy

Imagine that you decide to listen to music. You have two choices. You can listen to live radio, with adverts, paid promotions, a little dj chatter and music that was chosen either by the DJ or a musical algorithm. The choice isn’t yours.

In contrast with Winamp you have no adverts, you have no dj. You have complete control on whether you want to play songs, choosing each one, playing a playlist, or allowing an algorithm tho choose depending on your mood or most played songs.

Both fall within the scope of listening to music, but one is entirely controlled by the listener, and the other is controlled from above, by the radio station

How it ties in to Social Media

Threads is seen as a Twitter killer and the media love it but threads is an algorithm driven social media option where the user is not controlling their own experience. The higher ups are. If you use Facebook you see posts by strangers, not friends. If you use instagram every fourth post is influencer rubbish or an advert. The community has been weakened. I don’t expect Threads to be any different.

The Fediverse Alternative

By fleeing from Twitter to Threads you’re fleeing from the frying pan into the fire, rather than a bucket of ice. Twitter, Facebook et al are controlled by the same people, so by fleeing from one to the other you’re staying within the same sphere of influence.

In contrast, if you flee to the Fediverse, then you’re fleeing to the Winamp experience, where you are in control. You can choose which instance you want to be on, and yet you can chat with the global community if you like, or the local one. When I say local, I mean local to that server, not local to where you live, although if you had that desire then you could setup a local server instance for your physical world community.

The beauty of the Fediverse is that if you’re a blogger then you can add your blog to the fediverse natively, and have your own fediverse instance. You can microblog with it, if you like, or you can write full form blog posts. People can comment, like and more, and those will be mirrored on the blog, and the blog will mirror to the fediverse. It’s so dynamic that if you make a typo in a blog post that you have already published, you can correct it and it will propagate to your followers.

The Community

With the Fediverse, the more time you put into it, the more you will expand your network, and the more visible you become. You become visible, by chatting, commenting, liking and re-tooting and more. Algorithms are not used. Chronological timelines are. The more engaged you are, the more visible you are.

With Mastodon you don’t need to enrage people, offend them and more. Being a conversationalist is the only requirement. It really does feel like Golden Age twitter, rather than what we have had since 2008 and beyond. It feels like a worthwhile network once more.

European Intuition

I can’t play with threads for two reasons. The first reason is that Threads requires an absurd amount of permissions, from health, to spending habits, to browsing history. In summary it requires every permission that an iphone app could ever ask for. Europe said no, so in Europe, for now, we can’t use the app.

I browsed YouTube to see if I could find examples to see if I could find how different Threads is from Instagram and Facebook but couldn’t. What I did find were vlogs by people over-hyping the social network as revolutionary, and ground breaking.It isn’t. It’s the same pig, with different lipstick. To be clear, by pig I mean Facebook app, built to waste our time and sell adverts.

The Fediverse and BlueSky are more fateful Twitter competitors but they don’t have a userbase of two billion people. To join the Fediverse or BlueSky either requires joining an instance or getting an invite.

Mainstream Media and Social Media Control

Threads is being pushed as the Twitter clone and killer for two reasons. The first is that it’s brand new so it attracts curiousity so it makes sense to over-hype the thing that people are curious about. The second reason is that the people who control and own social media also control and own mainstream media, so they’re promoting the product that they want to win.

My Perspective

From my perspeective Threads is not a Twitter clone, or a Twitter killer because it doesn’t see any value in allowing people to follow their friends. It sees no value in giving people a sleek user experience without adverts, and injecting influencer ‘content’. I want to use a stronger word but will remain polite.

Blue Sky has taken itself out of the running recently, because it has seed funding from venture capitalists, and we know that all websites that get VC funding eventually get destroyed.

The true contender, in my view, as a twitter replacement is Mastodon because it shows the values and morality of early Twitter. It’s a network of friends of friends having conversations across servers, timezones and more. With time communities willm strengthen and expand and eventually true communities will exist.

The Fediverse is already broad. It has Mastodon, Lemmy, Kbin, WordPress and more already playing nicely with it.

And Finally

If and when Threads connects to the fediverse we will suddenly have an enormous amount of noise, and the cult of personality, that helped destroy Twitter and Instagram will destroy the fediverse if people are not careful. Threads is already 70 million people.

Final Thought

At the time of writing this post the fediverse had 13 million accounts. Threads already has 70 million. When Threads connects into the fediverse, the fediverse will be diluted and destroyed by Threads users. People say “but we can’t build a wall to keep people off of the fediverse. If we don’t block Threads, we will have no refuge from big tech. Remember, we left big tech websites for a reason.

Threads And Europe

Threads And Europe

Yesterday Facebook, discguised as meta, and Meta, diguised as Instagram launched Threads. Threads is meant to be a twitter competitor. The paradox is that Facebook has always been a twitter competitor, and this has become more evident with every iteration of both social networks. It is paradoxical that Facebook would need threads, to compete with Twitter.

Not Available in Europe

Threads, at the time of writing this blog post is not available in Europe because it requires data, which brings it in breach of GDPR rules. The only European Country where threads is authorised is England.

Commercial Use of Fediverse Data

Today I thought about the way in which Meta, through threads, could syphon data without user permissions for commercial use. Is Meta allowed to gather our data through the fediverse, and use it for commercial purposes or am I mistaken?

No Chronological friends timeline

I glimpsed a few lines that implied that Threads is a social network where we do not follow a chronological timeline of what our friends are posting. I left Facebook and Instagram because I had no desire to follow strangers that reminded me of what my life could be. It felt like a glossy magazine where you pay for adverts, rather than content. That is why we dumped plenty of magazines.

Why would you want to be on a network where you declare your friends, but see posts by strangers instead?

No Desire To Play

Although I should, I have no desire to play with threads and I read something that would worry me, if I was on Threads. Signing up to threads, via Instagram, binds both accounts. This means that you cannot delete your threads account, without also deleting instagram. Joining is easy, but once you’re in, you’re locked in. You can’t change your mind. You can deactivate your account but nothing more.

The Paradox of Competition

Although Threads is seen as competing with Twitter I think this is a flawed perspective. In so far as I can see Twitter is self-destructing itself. Mastodon, BlueSky, Threads and other apps don’t need to take active measures. Simply exiting as an alternative to Twitter is enough. Remember that Mastodon has been around for years, and that it only became of interest because people did not agree with Twitter’s new direction. It’s not that BlueSky, Mastodon or Threads are stealing users, it’s that Twitter is driving them away. Twitter is pushing people towards the competition.

The Social Media Migration peaks are as a direct consequence of moves made by Musk and Twitter, not the other way around. Twitter blames others, instead of analysing how its behaviour is the push factor.

And Finally

Threads “by Instagram” is just Facebook, rebranded, for those that are not attentive enough to realise that Threads and Facebook are basically the same thing, but rebranded to avoid some of the stigma that Meta collects, without ever apologising about.

Of Twitter Threads (mice) and Blog Posts (Humans).

With the sentence “Of Twitter threads (Mice) and Blog Posts (Humans)” you’ll see that I’ve done two things. The first is that I’ve modernised a well-known book title to draw parallels with the practices of writing Twitter threads and blog posts.

People write twitter threads because they think that it’s fast, convenient, will draw an audience and it’s trendy. It keeps people within the same site. No browsing between platforms and websites. There is the notion that people do not want to leave the social networks where they find themselves. Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks are portals, except that once you’re inside your trapped.

The beauty of writing threads is that it’s easy. You only need two hundred characters per tweet. You don’t need to develop and justify your ideas as you would with a blog post. Twitter threads are fleeting. Within a few minutes, they’re gone.

Blog posts, in contrast, requires your inspiration to last. You look at that empty window and you see an insurmountable challenge. You see three hundred words as a challenge not worth attempting. That’s how I often feel about blogging, and that’s why I usually write after a day of sports or other activities. It’s easy to write when the story exists and you’re just remembering it.

By blogging rather than writing twitter threads you’re pushing yourself to learn to write. The more you write the more ideas flow, and the more ideas flow the easier it is to go back and edit. The fear of the blank page dissipates, as does the lack of consistent inspiration.

Another feature of writing a blog post rather than a twitter thread is that you have time to think. There are no updates, no “press to refresh” and other distractions. From the moment you start to write until the moment you run out of momentum you are focused.

The length of my blog posts, and the quality of my writing have improved. I’m taking longer and longer breaks from social media. I’m reverting from a distracted individual who doesn’t follow curiousity to one that explores more.

If you’re worried about being distracted then reading twitter threads will not resolve this issue. You read two or three posts in a thread and see a reply that will take you in another direction, before returning to the original stream of thought.

Contrast this to a blog post. If, and when you skim Wordpress and other websites you’re seeing each post and their description before clicking and reading that post for a few minutes. You are fully engaged with the message that the writer wants to share. You then share that post, and people will read it as easily as you did.

Jaiku had threading, but similar to bulletin boards. Twitter’s algorithm fed threads promote the people and threads that make noise without anyone conversing, rather than the other way around.

If you’re inspired and have something to say then blogging is a fantastic avenue because as you’re learning to write with a voice there is a small audience, and as your voice gets stronger, and as your writing improves, so will your audience. In contrast, writing twitter threads gives the illusion of being a writer. You’re getting the attention, but writing snippets.

There is an exception to that rule, of course, poetry. If you’re a poet, and I am not, then Twitter might be an excellent avenue.

Twitter Threads and Blogging

Twitter Threads and Blogging

Twitter threads and blogging are both free but whereas with one you need to click to read the continuation and it’s hard to print the other is self contained and easily shareable.

I see twitter threads, that as twitter threads are a waste of time on a conversational channel but would be ideal for a blog post. Imagine that you combine two or three tweets. That length would justify a blog post.

Blog posts can be of any length but ideally they should be three hundred words or more. In the case where a twitter thread has three or more points it would perfectly justify a three or more paragraphs post.

With a blog post you can source and give examples of the point you are trying to make and you are not limited to a specific number of characters. You don’t need to run a sentence from one tweet to the other.

You can also add images, documents and more and add headings and more. If you often feel the desire to write threads you could even take up blogging again.

Your blog posts can be written with a mobile phone at any time of day or night and from anywhere. I mention this because with the unreliability of newer Mac book pros mobile phones become a more tempting proposition.

I deleted twitter from my mobile phone because the signal to noise ratio is so high that it is no longer a social tool. It is used like RSS and the conversation is uni-directional. Do you really want your train of thought to compete in such a noisy environment?

The blogosphere is just as noisy as twitter but with one key difference. People who read blog posts are looking to invest their time rather than scroll mindlessly. We might as well take advantage of that.

I saw an image on Facebook that said that we need to keep our social media appropriate for good mental health. I’m suggesting that we take it a further step and skip social networks like Facebook and twitter and start conversing via blog posts again. Let’s re-allocate the time that we devoted to social media to self owned blogs and platforms where we go to learn, share and be creative.

I still love blogging because the aim and the challenge is to find just one idea to write about daily. It’s easy to write 20 tweets and post twenty thoughts a day to Facebook. It’s much harder to write one blog post a day. The challenge is good. We gain in creativity, self discipline and focus.

Next time you’re tempted to write a twitter thread stop yourself and write a blog post. It will take the same amount of time but your audience will be more engaged, eventually. Give your ideas the treatment they deserve.