The Good, The Bad & The Threads – Kenyans Join Meta’s Latest Offering

What Is Threads? – Intro

Meta, the parent company of Instagram, launched its Threads app on July 6, 2023, in both the USA and Kenya. Threads is a separate app from Instagram but bears some similarities to Twitter. It features a feed page filled with text-based posts from suggested users. According to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the app gained over 30 million users on its very first day. Remarkably, Threads garnered more than 30 million sign-ups within the initial 16 hours of its launch. Ipsos reported that the app reached one million users in less than two hours. Logging into Threads is a breeze – simply download and install the Threads app from either the Play Store (for Android) or App Store (for Apple) and launch it. The app will detect the Instagram account you are logged into and prompt you to log in with it. Tap the “Log in with Instagram” button, and you’re all set.

The Good – Why Users Love Threads

Threads app has received praise from users for several reasons. Firstly, its emphasis on text-based conversations has been well-received, with Meta promoting it as a platform that allows users to express themselves more fully. The app’s simplicity and smooth design have also garnered appreciation from users. One user, HBR Radio host G Money, humorously posted on Threads, “Only thing I’ve learned from Threads is that my IG peeps are more civilized than Twitter. Twitter feels like driving through Ruaka.” This post was reposted by Adele Onyango, reflecting the sentiment of a calmer and more civil community on Threads compared to Twitter.

Moreover, Threads offers various user control features, enabling individuals to manage their interactions effectively. This includes controlling who can mention or reply to them, blocking or restricting other users, reporting inappropriate content, and automatic following of Instagram accounts. Users value these controls as they provide autonomy in shaping their experience on the platform.

Threads’ compatibility with other networks is another advantage. The app seamlessly integrates with other social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, both products of Meta. This interoperability allows users to connect with a broader audience, share content effortlessly, and engage in vibrant discussions. Threads has become a place where communities gather to discuss everything from the latest news to their favorite hobbies.

The Bad – Critiques of the Threads App

Although Threads has been well-received by many, it has also faced criticism. Some users initially considered it a potential “Twitter killer,” but have noted that it lacks some of Twitter’s unique features. For example, Threads does not allow users to include hashtags in their posts, limiting the ability to discover content related to specific topics. One user, the BBC journalist Waihiga Mwaura, tweeted, “Is there a Threads desktop version?” expressing disappointment over the absence of a web version, unlike Twitter.

Threads also lacks a search feature, making it challenging to find specific conversations or topics. The app does not have an explore tab or trends section, hindering the discovery of new users and content. Users have also voiced dissatisfaction with the absence of a dark-themed mode, a popular setting on social media platforms. Limited one-to-one interaction is another drawback, as the app does not provide an option to send direct messages (DMs).

User thee_albato humorously posted on Threads, “Sasa huku tukitaka kushoot our shots tunashoot aje na hakuna dms…ama unatangaza msimamo mbele ya umati??” highlighting the limitation.

Ironically, critiques of Threads have been trending on Twitter, with users sharing their mixed experiences. Antweezy tweeted, “Damn threads made me follow everyone I have on IG. Now I’m out there following 500 people with like 30 followers. It’s been a couple of hours, and I already hate that app.”

Philosopher, a popular tweep, expressed dissatisfaction with the app’s potential censorship, stating, “I’m reading complaints that Threads app is like old Twitter (before Elon) on matters censorship. I’m tempted to open an account there, post an exact controversial message like we post on Twitter to see if they’ll censor.”

Brian Mutinda summed up the sentiment, saying, “In as much as people are pretending to enjoy Threads, it simply doesn’t slap like Twitter.”

The Trap & Data Security

While logging into Threads through your Instagram account is easy and convenient, there is a catch: deleting your Threads account automatically deletes your Instagram account as well. The Threads Supplemental Privacy Policy states, “You may deactivate your Threads profile at any time, but your Threads profile can only be deleted by deleting your Instagram account.” This linkage has raised concerns among users, who value the independence of the two platforms.

Additionally, Threads tracks the same data as Instagram, including health and fitness information, location, contacts, search history, and usage data. Although this data is accessible through the Threads app, it requires logging in with your Instagram account. The creation of Threads coincides with Meta facing two antitrust complaints from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the USA, demanding the sale of Instagram and WhatsApp due to allegations of “anti-competitive conduct.” This context raises further concerns about data security and privacy.