On Wednesday, July 7, Meta launched Threads, a new social media platform to rival Twitter. Although Threads is not yet available in Ireland and the EU, there were more than 30 million sign-ups in the first 24 hours, with LGBTQ+ users among the early adopters.
Threads is the latest of several Twitter alternatives to have appeared in recent months, as under Elon Musk, the so-called bird app has become increasingly hostile to some minority groups, including LGBTQ+ folks, under the guise of protecting free speech, with many of its new features receiving heavy criticism. While Meta’s app appears quite similar to its competitor, many are questioning whether it has the potential to provide a safer online space for the queer community.
On Threads, rather than feeding content to users chronologically, an algorithm is in place to ensure that posts on the timeline match the interests of the person scrolling. This makes it easier to find and follow relevant accounts and avoid exposure to unwanted material.
streets saying “gay threads” sound better than “gay twitter” and i hate that i agree dicnjd dms
— dill (@saendill) July 6, 2023
Although in its early stages, the app also already has some built-in safety measures, including an alert that notifies users of potentially harmful accounts before they follow them. For example, when trying to follow Donald Trump on Threads, a notification pops up reading: “Are you sure you want to follow donaldjtrumpjr? This account has repeatedly posted false information that was reviewed by independent fact-checkers or went against our Community Guidelines.”
Other safety measures include allowing users to create a list of ‘Hidden Words’ for content and comments they don’t want to see.
While it is expected that the guidelines regarding hate speech and the use of slurs will be stricter than Twitter’s, people have noted that the new app has already been spammed with some anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric from troll accounts like ‘Gays Against Groomers’, and effective content moderation may take some time to implement.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Threads for now is strongly linked to Instagram and, for synergy purposes, a user’s handle on both apps must be the same. People can also import their Instagram followers to Threads, as well as their block list.
me on threads with all the IG gays rn pic.twitter.com/TK61zOhDH1
— jonathan (@wwwdotjondotcom) July 6, 2023
However, in disappointing news for many, it appears that NSFW content will not be allowed on Meta’s app, with Musk’s platform continuing to host explicit material.
Although it is still early days and there are many improvements to be made, people are seeing potential in Threads, much to the distaste of Twitter. In fact, Musk’s company is threatening to sue Mark Zuckerberg’s, with lawyer Alex Spiro accusing Meta of hiring former Twitter employees who “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information”.
“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” Spiro added.
Gay Twitter running to threads pic.twitter.com/tlcyuLVhnz
— -Alison. ✨ (@iCafeinomano) July 6, 2023
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