The Emperor’s New Threads

July 24, 2023

We often think of “technology” and “new” as the same thing. And much of the time they are. Tech pushes progress, redefines what we can do — it even creates new worlds. 

It’s an expectation we’re so used to that we often don’t stop to really look under the bonnet and see if the newest, shiniest thing is the step forward it promises to be. 

This is especially true when it comes to social media. A little quiet since Snapchat capitalized on a bored and frightened world in need of a distraction during the pandemic, the launch of a new platform Threads has made waves the world over. 

Taking just five days to reach a huge 100 million users, Mark Zuckerberg’s latest Insta-Frankenstein seems set to deliver the final knockout blow to a Twitter stumbling beneath the Musk ego. 

The speed of adoption alone marks it out as the new must-have. But a closer look at the platform means these might not be the new threads that Mark Zuckerberg, Emperor of Social Media, would have us believe. 

In fact, Threads isn’t really new at all. Anyone logging into the text-focused platform for the first time expecting “new” stands to be disappointed. 

Threads feels so familiar in fact, that Twitter’s lawyers immediately hit out at Meta in a letter accusing Meta of poaching Twitter employees and threatening legal action

In terms of user experience, the two apps share a lot of features. There’s no new concept, no different way of adding value and connecting in an increasingly screen-sensitive, social-media-sceptical world. Put simply, it’s Facebook’s take on Twitter. 

More than a missed opportunity for progress in the virtual-social space, Threads’ all-too familiar owners mean it could even be seen as a step back. 

From your physical health to your financial health data, your GPS location to your device’s camera, Threads continues the access-all-areas approach to personal data that’s already seen Meta handed a $1.3 billion fine less than two months ago.

Using the same privacy policy and business model as Meta, Threads’ approach to personal data means its EU launch has been put on hold as the app is likely to breach soon-to-be-launched privacy regulations. 

Threads isn’t really “new”. It’s an all-too familiar app and experience, that reminds us not to forget some of the key challenges and debates in tech. 

Meta moved too slowly with Threads. With the advent of AI, the innovation cycle is no longer years or months — it’s days. 

The Meta team made one of the most common product development errors. They decided on their idea, then put their heads down. While they created what they thought the market wanted, the market changed. Expectations changed. The result? Threads falls short. 

Threads is new-ish — it’s an iteration, built on familiar and increasingly cracked foundations. 

What we’re seeing with the record number of sign-ups is real appetite for something new in the virtual social space — that and the power of FOMO. 

After the initial excitement, the Threads experience isn’t likely to meet that demand for something really new. Something that offers real progress, that creates difference and value for users. Now that platform will be worth joining. 

Author Headshot

Dani Wilkinson

Dani has a passion for making brands sparkle. From Dyson vacuum cleaners to Pies, she built brands from the ground up and has a strong perspective from both high-level, to actual practicalities and how to get something done.

Say Hello. Let's talk.

Email us to set up a chat, jump on a video call or pop by and see us.