Meta's Incipient Flop
Meta introduced "threads" today, seemingly aspiring to fail.
I just investigated instagram threads, and found that the platform is mobile-only, accessible only with its official app. That's a complete nonstarter for me. That means that Meta requires from the jump that anyone using the platform agrees to copious data collection and cookie farming, with no visibility of what is being collected, or when. If I can't participate at all from a real computer, and have some control over what background processes and data collection are taking place, then unless it's adopted on a massive scale, I see no value in it, and will not be using it.
I think this is a flawed approach from the start, and will be a failure on the scale of Zuckerberg’s Metaverse embarrassment. Accessibility and content moderation are what make a social media platform valuable. Restricting access to an official app with black-box operations is already a limiter on who will use the platform, and homogenizes the desired discourse by that much.
Twitter and Reddit have worked hard— whether deliberately or accidentally, it is hard to say —to chase away any users who want to just access the platform without installing data collection background processes, and it appears Meta wants in on the game without even knowing how it will(or won’t) work.
The result for Twitter has been a wholesale emptying of its engineering, content moderation, and ad sales staffs, which has resulted in frequent service degradation and outages, and disastrous public failures like the Desantis campaign announcement fiasco. Twitter is unable to keep the lights on. They just declined to pay for another hosting contract with Google, and seemingly as a result, they are now requiring a login for anyone to view any content. I say “as a result” because this move will naturally reduce access to the platform, and reduce the platform’s relevance.
Reddit is a couple days into their recent seismic change. They announced in April that they would start charging for access to their site data, particularly for maintainers of the dozens of outstanding mobile apps made by third parties, at untenable cost. Overnight, almost all of these apps, complete with extremely devoted followings of millions of users, have shuttered. These apps, like the 3rd party apps that Twitter banned with no warning a few months ago, shaped the platform, and made it a valuable online meeting place. A “town square,” if you will.
As a direct result, Reddit is losing most of its volunteer moderators, whose effort makes the platform welcoming to users(ie: valuable), a fact against which Reddit's corporate leadership are sticking their fingers in their ears and holding their eyes shut. The staff that have for years maintained the “ask me anything” feature that has helped define the platform, have announced that they will no longer contribute this valuable service, as Reddit’s leadership have completely ignored and berated criticisms of their seemingly willful destruction of reddit dot com.
I say all this because Meta appears to want to start their new platform from the same user-hostile position where Twitter and Reddit currently sit through their own incompetence, but Meta wants to do it deliberately. And Meta somehow expects it to succeed. I may eat my words on this. It may be that Reddit and Twitter’s failures since making their platforms less accessible and less moderated will somehow not apply to Meta, but I can’t see that right now.