A week in, Threads has lost half of its active users

Originally published at: A week in, Threads has lost half of its active users | Boing Boing


The way media, journalists and such flocked to Threads in the hopes that it would bring back the good old days? That wasn’t healthy.

Especially when there are federated, de-centralised options that would allow them and their employers to control their platforms and (assuming Threads follows through on implementing ActivityPub) still connect with all the users on Threads. Highly on-line media people aren’t tech-ignorant grandpas and grandmas, either – they’d pick up the Mastodon or another Fediverse interface quickly.

Instead they’ll keep letting billionaires like Zuckerberg and Musk and Dorsey set them up for failure because they and their employers are lazy and unimaginative (and, in some cases I suspect, because they want to keep engaging with Nazis and TERFs and the like on social media).


In fairness though, the biggest challenge in replacing Twitter is not technical, it’s the network effects of the enormous user base. Facebook was one of the only entities capable of doing that (or at least doing it quickly), and even they are apparently struggling.


Right, but Threads seems serious about implementing ActivityPub and doing so quickly (they know they’ll instantly become the biggest instance in the Fediverse). That technical aspect addresses the network effects to a large degree.

There’s also nothing except laziness preventing media people from cross-posting to accounts on Twitter, Threads, Mastodon, and any other platform while things shake out. Hedging their bets instead of saying “let’s trust Zuckerberg again” strikes me as the wiser move, even at the cost of a tiny amount of short-term inconvenience.


Gee, maybe it had something to do with this.


It’s only available as a phone app. I hate those, do not use them.


The app isn’t feature equal to Twitter. Not even close for primary use cases.

It’s like someone who only used Twitter’s “For You” page to read whatever random stuff the algorithm picks, and then they just stopped.

Even Instagram added a “Following Only” view.

I cannot fathom why Threads hasn’t added a Following Only reverse chronological view yet. That one thing would deal with a huge amount of criticism.

Engagement being down seems obvious. If you can only see whatever random stuff instead of the stuff you actually want to see, why would you keep coming back. The longer they wait to fix this, the more they squander getting all those early sign ups.

Edit: As @Tsu_Dho_Nimh notes, the phone only app is a pain too. Stand up the web site would be huge too. And an actual tablet app (or at least the web site). That phone only app on a tablet is garbage.

In this order and engagement would stick way better:
Following Only reverse chronological view
Website version.
Tablet version.


I bet that’s pretty much exactly their roadmap, they appear to have been a little unprepared for the level of interest and probably thought a 1.0 MVP on mobile would gauge interest while they finished everything else (and artificially throttle adoption). Oops!


Only if they get their moderation under control first. A lot of instances won’t federate with them because they’re Facebook, but too many edgelords and out-right nazis would be a killer.

More blocking granularity between individual users and whole nodes would be nice.


Then again, who applies the classifications?


Maybe, but I’m not sure. Instagram took years before they added Following Only, and it’s still extra clicks to get there every time. Instagram also doesn’t have a tablet version either and in an interview, they said it wasn’t a big deal. Instagram does at least have a web site.

I assume it’s easier to show ads in the For You type views. Since it is really about showing ads not about proviging a good application.

It also isn’t like Facebook is some wonderful app for showing the content you want instead of what Facebook wants to show you.

They’re a huge company. These missing things aren’t some big change or hard to add. They just didn’t do them.


It depends on the instance, but my guess is that a lot of them still will federate despite the minimal to non-existent moderation we’ve come to expect. They’ll make the exception because it will still have millions of users, including friends and family you actually want to engage with. It will then become a game of an admin banning individual users from the Threads instance.

The good news is that reputable and trustworthy Mastodon admins seem to already be sharing lists of problematic instances and users, and better tools to manage that won’t be far behind.


There will eventually be specialized moderation services that nodes can subscribe to, ranging from somebody-on-the-internet-you-trust to professional organizations.

(I can just imagine the fuss if a GOP House committee tried to summon for questioning some completely anonymous moderation service, similar to the SPEWS spam blocklist. “Serve a subpoena on magnet:?xt=urn:btih:41962EB0C7722A1DB22AB8689F0905433AA0AED0!”)

eta: It should be possible with ActivityPub, right now, to follow a list of users (who can be organizations), and semi-automatically merge their blocklists into your blocklist. It’s a shame Friendica uses PHP, or I might look into writing an add-on.


It’s probably also good for ad-adjacent posts from corporate and celebrity accounts.


No web view, closed off API, a significant number of potential EU users can’t access it normally, Instagram’s business model/habit of kissing celebrity ass carried over and is clogging feeds.

What Twitter had a few years before Elon and now is a customer service problem. Threads is having the same issues plus all the stuff I listed above. But Threads are doing a somewhat decent job of keeping the neckbeards from shitting all over the place and scaring off potential future advertisers.


Here’s a good summary of the things fediverse servers are considering in relation to threads.



I think Threads will be a slow burn. Zuck has my social local graph. If he can clean up his act (e.g. he just released AI to the Commons), I think I will be on it more than Twitter. Twitter is just irreplaceable in my mind for International and breaking news, but is a terrible place to advertise a global brand that didn’t want to be associated with some pretty awful stuff.

Zuck, just stop that selling my privacy to nazi stuff, mmkay?


I don’t think this is necessarily a strike against Threads: social media usually has scalloped growth. A wave comes in, and then recedes, hopefully at a higher level. Hype comes in, attracts a bunch of users, and then some/most of them leave. No big deal.

Mastodon/Lemmy/etc go through similar booms. The overall trend is up, the ocean rises, but every time there’s a downturn, various people go OMG COLLAPSING, and ignore the running average.

Threads will probably continue to grow a while; Meta can afford to fund it at a loss for a while. They won’t try to monetize it aggressively until and unless they have people locked in.

I think people should be moving to Mastodon or other Fediverse microblogging servers, because when Threads joins, it’ll be the gorilla in the room, and the bigger the counterweight we have when they do join the network, the less leverage they’ll have.


Yeah, there’s Oliphant’s blocklist generator based on fediblockhole, but it should be built into the base Mastodon admin package, frankly. A server should be able to follow/merge some other server’s blocklist automatically without having to dink around with a separate package. And a user should be able to do the same for themselves without needing the server admin to step in.


While it’s probably not the case, it gives me some small hope that maybe people are waking up and realizing that not just Twitter but ALL social media (at least the versions run by sociopathic billionaires) is garbage that is, in fact, NOT mandatory to use.


FYI: there is a way to implement “Following Only” in the settings. It’s a shame that it’s a bit obscure and it takes a little while for it to take effect but it does work. Makes a HUGE difference.

Also, they NEED to get the web version up and running ASAP. They’re a LOT of potential users out there that can’t/won’t use mobile for this.

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