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Meta begins countdown for new Twitter-like app 'Threads'

Lungile Msomi
By Lungile Msomi, ITWeb journalist
Johannesburg, 04 Jul 2023

Facebook parent company Meta has begun the countdown for the release of its Twitter-like app called “Threads”.

This comes days after Twitter owner, executive chairman and chief technology officer Elon Musk announced a cap on how many posts readers can view per day.

According to Reuters, Threads is set to launch in the US on 6 July and the following day for the rest of the world.

At the time of writing, the official website for “Threads” presented a countdown that showed how long until the app is launched.

It also presents a QR code that leads to a link to pre-order the app on the App Store, with “coming soon” displayed on the Google Play Store link.

According to the app description on the App Store, Threads will collect various data from users, including location, contact info, browsing history, identifiers, contacts and financial info.

The push to release the Meta app comes after Musk said in a tweet on Saturday that there would be limitations on how many posts can be read by users per day, “to address extreme levels of data-scraping and system manipulation”.

After the move, verified users were limited to 6 000 posts per day, while unverified users and new unverified users were limited to 600 and 300 posts per day, respectively.

The temporary reading limitations were later increased to 10 000 posts per day for verified users, 1 000 posts per day for unverified, and 500 posts per day for new unverified users, Musk said in a separate post without providing further details.

Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, believes Musk’s mismanagement of Twitter is built around the illusion that Twitter is of such value that people should pay for anything but the most basic access.

“This led to the blue tick fiasco, where what was once a mark of credibility is now the equivalent of a spamming certificate. Instead of rewarding those who were responsible for either the traffic or the credibility of the platform, he tried to penalise them.

“The same thinking applies to activity on Twitter. Instead of recognising that eyes on tweets translate into traffic and, therefore, potentially higher advertising revenue, he treats it as users abusing the platform,” says Goldstuck.

Brent Janse Van Vuuren, MD of SocialMedia101, says Musk has expressed frustration over significant data pillaging on Twitter, specifically highlighting the aggressive scraping practices employed by various organisations and its negative impact on the overall user experience.

“Musk has previously voiced his dissatisfaction with AI [artificial intelligence] firms like OpenAI utilising Twitter’s data for training large language models. The timing of the announcement, also coinciding with Twitter's decision to restrict tweet access for non-account-holders, suggests significant changes in terms of accessibility and data handling policies.

“Additionally, the expiration of Twitter's contract with Google for cloud-based services could indicate a potential shift in their infrastructure strategy,” says Janse van Vuuren.

South African-born Musk bought Twitter last year for $44 billion, and has made many changes since he acquired the social media platform.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, has also responded to the latest developments at the social media firm, saying: “Running Twitter is hard. I don’t wish that stress upon anyone. I trust that the team is doing their best under the constraints they have, which are immense. It’s easy to critique the decisions from afar, which I’m guilty of, but I know the goal is to see Twitter thrive. It will.”

Goldstuck comments that Musk’s move will chase users away. “People will simply reduce time spent on the platform; many will discover it's not that important in their lives and use it even less, and many will stop using it. At the very least, it is yet another way he is undermining Twitter's appeal to advertisers.”

Janse Van Vuuren adds that users who rely on Twitter for news may feel frustrated by the lack of real-time information and updates.

“Moreover, this move could result in reduced user engagement and potentially impact Twitter's user base and advertising revenue. If users find the limitations too restrictive, they may spend less time on the platform, leading to decreased ad impressions and potentially affecting the effectiveness of Twitter's monetisation model.”