The house that Zuck built

You're just leasing the furniture. 'These are not our spaces'
Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash

Threads headed into its first weekend in the world with 70 million users, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. By comparison, in July 2022, 16 years after its birth, Twitter reportedly had about 238 million users. For us, the users, it bears thinking about the shifting nature of our social media homes. Isn’t all social media space basically a rented proposition?

The Atlantic’s Charlie Warzel thinks so, warning on Threads’ first weekend: “You are leasing all the furniture on social-media platforms, and one day, the company is going to come by and say, ‘You have to take it back now’. And you’re left sitting on your floor, wondering what you’re going to do. Ultimately, we are serving at the pleasure of internet boy-kings. These are not our spaces”.

Accordingly, it’s right for Twitter migrants to be a bit wary of building another supposedly forever house on Threads. Mr Warzel says he’s a “bit baffled by the enthusiasm”anyway because “do people not understand that this (Threads) is a Meta production?”

The reference, of course, is to Facebook’s record, particularly since 2016, in relation to issues of account-holders’ privacy, Cambridge Analytica, politics, Myanmar, etc. Facebook’s popularity has declined in the past few years and as Mr Warzel points out, a whole new narrative came up that “Facebook is uncool and bad”. But then Facebook’s parent company Meta puts out “this product,” Mr Warzel says in tones of incredulity, “and people are like, Oh, thank God, finally I have a place to go to post my thoughts!”

How to explain this strange herd behaviour and selective amnesia? Mr Warzel says: “People want to try new things. They want to be with their friends; they want to be entertained. They want those spaces to be populated by familiar faces, whether that’s their friends or celebrities or just people they know”.

This appetite for social connection is clearly very well understood by Mr Zuckerberg, who built Facebook and has now birthed Threads. However good or bad the new social platform is, however, it’s worth remembering that it’s Zuck’s house, the one he built and owns. Our time in it may hang by a thread.