Threads: an early vitality check

Hello all. Madison is out this week, so she’s hacked into the mainframe and taken control.

I come to you with a breaking news sentiment report from Topics, The new version of Twitter unveiled by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday. It has already signed up 30 million users, according to Zuckerberg, and appears to be the fastest downloaded app ever.

If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s a really quick rundown of what you’ve been missing: Olivia Rodrigo is promoting her new single. Al Roker posts about his earwax. Brands like Slim Jim and Wendy’s are trying to be funny, and YouTube star MrBeast became the first user to hit 1 million followers.

“I can’t get enough of your threads,” actress Jennifer Lopez said in a post to the thread. Paris Hilton asked her followers to name her new puppy. Welcome to Gay Twitter! “I think some things are catwalk-insensitive,” said Ellen DeGeneres, who was then dragged in the responses.

For an app that has caused so much drama — Twitter is already threatening legal action — the user experience seems basic, even rote. So far, the 500-character messages on the app contain a lot of self-promotion and Elon Musk memes. If there’s a dominant topic of conversation, it’s odd to be on topics. Many users said it feels like the first day of school.

There have been an unusually high number of first days of school lately. Since Elon Musk bought Twitter last year and plunged the platform into disarray, a series of supposed alternatives have created buzz, but fizzled out. Remember the mastodon? What about Bluesky?

Will the threads really be different? we will see. As my colleague Mike Isaac reports, Threads has the benefits of massive Meta resources and a billion-strong Instagram user base. A competing imitation is classic Zuck: Meta has previously released features that mimic Snapchat and TikTok.

What we learned from Mastodon and Bluesky is that no matter how much users like an idea To replace Twitter, they wouldn’t actually move to one unless it was as easy to use and addictive as Twitter once was. threads check the previous box; The latter remains to be seen.

Easy to setup on themes. There’s no begging for invitations (awkward) or learning a completely new interface (awkward). The app looks and feels very much like Twitter with Instagram fonts.

Some things may seem unfamiliar. You need an Instagram account to get started with Themes. There are no ads – for now – and the app doesn’t currently support direct messaging, which is an important component of Twitter.

The biggest thing Thread has to offer is a ready-made social graph, via the option to auto-follow everyone you follow on Instagram. This built-in audience is a plus for celebrities and brands. Blue checks from Instagram are also moving to threads.

As a result, the barrier to entry is low for those who already have high-profile Instagram accounts. “They don’t have to learn anything new, they don’t have to develop a new following,” said Robyn Kaplan, associate professor of technology policy at Duke University.

Importing followers has its downsides, Kaplan added. Even your cherished Instagram following may not be the type of account you want to follow on a text-heavy platform like Thread. And in the short time Kaplan has been on the app, she’s noticed her feed is dominated by blue-verified accounts that don’t always feel relevant to her life. (The first post she saw was by the Backstreet Boys.)

There is plenty of time for that to change and the platform to take off – and just as much time for it to fade. Early adopters of threads seem to be aware of this.

“Either I go early to the party or no one else will come,” actress Maitrei Ramakrishnan wrote in the app. “It really could go either way, strings.”

Tell us what you think of the topics at [email protected].

Here’s what else is happening online this week.

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