Small earthquake in the world of social networks. While, on July 6, Senator Claude Malhuret will make public the long-awaited report of his commission of inquiry on the social network of Chinese origin TikTok, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, is preparing to draw Threads, an application that could well become Twitter’s main competitor. Black Thursday for the latter? The recent decision by the little blue bird network to limit the number of tweets that can be viewed per account per day has caused discord among its users.
It is also an illustration of a new balance of power between the tech giants. While the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX had humorously explained that he was ready to challenge Mark Zuckerberg in a cage, it was finally in the field of applications that the latter came to provoke him. Meta, Facebook’s parent company struggling to establish itself in the metaverse, has it found the miracle recipe to destabilize Twitter? A feat that has failed to achieve Truth Social, the microblogging site launched by Donald Trump, yet launched with great fanfare, just like Bluesky, Minds or Spill, alternative social networks.
Overview of the new features offered by Threads, already acclaimed by singer Shakira, model Karlie Kloss and NBA star Seth Curry. Even if, beware, the social network may have been launched in a hundred countries, including India, this is not yet the case in France, Italy or Germany.
The messages that can be posted on the new social network – called threads – look like tweets. Just like posts that can be shared, liked and replied to. Surprisingly, the name used is reminiscent of an album by rock band Red Sun Rising, which notably begins with the song “Fascination”. Thread, a term meaning thread or net in English, is also the name of a series of tweets shared by a single person and responding to each other. Instagram’s blue checkmarks, similar to Twitter’s, should also be included.
Instagram’s user base of over 2 billion monthly active users can easily create an account. People verified on Instagram will also be verified on Threads. Small originality: your contacts are not yet on Threads? You can follow them in advance – and you’ll be notified as soon as they arrive on the new platform. As a result, the new social network has gained 5 million users in four hours of existence, including the singer Shakira, but also the Netflix platform, NPR radio and the American television channel HBO.
Threads uses ActivityPub, a decentralized social media protocol also used by social network Mastodon. This means that the content of the application is available on several servers. It is therefore theoretically more difficult to control or even censor it. “We are working to make Threads compatible with open and interoperable social networks that we believe can shape the future of the Internet,” Meta promised in a Threads presentation.
Despite these precautions, there is no guarantee that the data of future European users will not be repatriated across the Atlantic. This is also the weak point of this new social network and this would explain why it is not yet available in Europe. In any case, this is one of the criticisms pointed out by Jack Dorsey, the co-creator of Twitter, who, in a… tweet, regretted that the new social network collects and stores data relating to health, the history of navigation, purchases or the location of users.
All your Threads are belong to us https://t.co/FfrIcUng5O pic.twitter.com/V7xbMOfINt
The heart of the problem remains. If social networks were particularly singled out during the riots, it is simply out of the question to ban them, recalled the philosopher Éric Sadin. However, “there is no place in a democracy for incitement to violence and to commit crimes, whether in real life or online”, indeed recently explained to Point Thierry Breton, which clarified: “Platforms will be required to put in place measures to limit the amplification of hate and violence through their algorithms. If it wishes to deploy on this side of the Atlantic, the Threads social network will indeed have to respond to new European regulations, in particular the Digital Services Act, which will come into full effect on August 25 and which aims to create line the same conditions of dialogue as what can exist in real life.