As a social media enthusiast and veteran since the days of Bulletin Board Systems and Usenet News, I’ve been watching with interest all the investment in new platforms. Of course, I’ve felt the need to check out most of them.
- Mastodon: Check
- Post.news: Check
- Substack: Check
- Threads: Check
- Bluesky: I am insufficiently cool to have received an invitation as yet
Why no link to Threads? Because they are launching in app-only mode. To obtain full functionality, one must download the app from the Android Play Store or the Apple App Store.
I hate this. Odds are good that they will eventually launch a web-based interface, but as with Instagram, the web is not a priority for Meta.
I’m guessing this is a strategy. Facebook’s web interface is MORE functional than their smartphone app is, but Instagram’s is not. Instagram was developed primarily for the sharing of still and video images, so its phone-centric approach makes pretty obvious sense.
Threads, however, is theoretically for text-based conversation.
The phone is amazing for its portability, and it’s pretty good for consuming content. The cameras on smart phones have become so good that the phone has become the optimal instrument from which to share images. When I’m writing, however, I MUCH prefer to read and compose text on an actual responsive keyboard, attached to a laptop or desktop computer. I will use a keyboard attached to a tablet, in a pinch. I find typing on a smartphone to be an exercise in frustration – and I have pretty small fingers. I have no idea how the average tech dude pulls it off. Voice recognition has gotten better, but nobody on the street wants to hear me composing my social media posts, and it’s kind of noisy there anyway. I don’t actually compose my best thoughts standing in line at the grocery store, so I’m happy to wait to post till I have access to my laptop.
Why are they going phone first? Possibly because that’s where the wider market is. Everybody has a phone– even people who do not have a computer. But it’s also likely that because phone apps are where the data is. Meta is all about monetizing our data. For me, that ship has sailed – I’m already on Facebook and Instagram, so I don’t have much privacy to lose by playing with Threads.
Nilay Patel, Editor-in-Chief at TheVerge is on Team Web with me, and has bet his publication’s social media strategy on a Web-first approach to offering engagement with tech news. I think his approach is wise. It will be interesting to see if Meta comes up with a functional web interface for Threads. Until they do, it’s not likely to be where you’ll find me saying much. I’m just not willing to go to the pain of phone-typing to establish a social media presence!