Showing all posts tagged: social networks
19 September 2023
Threads. Mastodon. Bluesky. They’re among options for fans of micro-blogging who want to leave Twitter behind. But is seeking out alternatives to Twitter really the solution? American computer scientist and author Cal Newport, writing for The New Yorker, believes we should instead move on from what he sees as the flawed idea of a global conversation platform:
Fortunately, the original small community ethos of the early Internet seems to be mounting a comeback in forms like podcasting, e-mail newsletters, Discord groups, and TalkNats.com-style discussion sites—all of which can offer a more homegrown and personal variety of online interaction.
24 August 2023
Many members of the Australian women’s football team saw their social media followings jump exponentially as a result of the recent 2023 Women’s World Cup, according to data compiled by Australian football news and information portal Keepup.
Mary Fowler’s Instagram (IG) follower count soared by nearly 470% to — as of time of writing — about 281,000. Caitlin Foorde meanwhile saw her IG followers increase by 153% to about 208,000, while team captain Sam Kerr’s count doubled to over one and half million people.
22 August 2023
Threads users have been waiting for a bevy of features to be added to the micro-blogging platform, and it looks like a web version — something I’ve certainly been looking forward to — may arrive in a few days. Last week Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram (and I guess Threads), said Meta had been working on a web version for “a week or two”, but added that more work had been needed.
Being able to cross-post across platforms such as Instagram, Mastodon, Facebook, and Twitter/X, by way of the web is an absolute boon for me. No doubt there’s an app that does this, but I prefer the flexibility of being able to copy, paste, and alter posts, while going from one browser tab to another.
In other news, and I don’t know when this happened, but a Font Awesome Threads glyph has also become available. There’s only the one version at the moment, but maybe there will be more later.
21 August 2023
John Gruber, writing at Daring Fireball last week:
At this moment, Threads is #2 on the App Store’s top free downloads list, and X is #51. On the Play Store, Threads is #6 and X is (scroll, scroll, scroll…) #66. This rebranding would be a firing offense if the mastermind behind it didn’t own the company. (So much for Threads being the one that’s supposedly gasping for air.)
Despite the good app install numbers, engagement reportedly remain low on Meta’s rival to Twitter/X. Abené Clayton, writing for The Guardian, says Threads saw 576,000 active users in August, compared to over two million in July.
Threads is up against a few competitors, Mastodon and Bluesky to name a few, so the market is perhaps a little crowded. I would add Twitter/X to that list, but owner Elon Musk seems intent on destroying the platform, and in the process, his plans for… world domination.
15 August 2023
After reading Move fast and beat Musk: The inside story of how Meta built Threads, by Naomi Nix and Will Oremus of The Washington Post, I’m certain the story behind the launch of Meta’s rival to Twitter, Threads, is ripe for adaptation to the big screen.
All the ingredients of a thriller-like race against time are there. Trust me. So here I am, calling action.
First, opportunity presents itself:
The mercurial Musk had just taken over Twitter. Amid the ensuing chaos, [head of Instagram Adam] Mosseri’s boss at rival Meta smelled opportunity.
Next there are senior Meta executives on family holidays in Europe, taking breathless phone calls from their boss in the middle of the night:
It was nighttime in Italy, and Mosseri spoke softly to avoid waking his sleeping wife. The group discussed Twitter-like features they could add to existing apps, including Instagram.
What? Enhance an existing app to make it look like something it isn’t? Are you for real? No, the boss wants to land the legendary three-thousand pound marlin here:
Zuckerberg, however, had a different idea: “What if we went bigger?”
Now that exact requirements are understood, and the enormity of the task at hand can be seen in the cold light of day, the inevitable panic begins to set in:
“Oh God, we’ve got to figure this out, because [Zuckerberg is] very excited about this,” Mosseri recalled thinking. “Sometimes you can tell when he kind of gets his teeth into something.”
The last thing, of course, you want to do is disappoint the boss. But you know what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough get going:
With a mandate from Zuckerberg to take a big risk, Mosseri assembled a lean, engineer-heavy team of fewer than 60 people to hack together a bare-bones app on a breakneck timetable more reminiscent of a start-up than an entrenched tech giant.
That paragraph sounds like it packs a punch, but a sixty person team is hardly “reminiscent of a start-up”. Instagram, which Threads is built upon, was, at the beginning, the work of two people, Michel Krieger and Kevin Systrom. But who cares? This is the movies, and all audiences want is a great story.
And size of the development team notwithstanding, there were challengers aplenty. Mainly what product features not to include, rather than what to ship:
To keep things moving, the Threads team punted thorny decisions and eschewed difficult features, including private messages and the ability to search for content or view the feeds of people you don’t follow.
But the clock is ticking. No one knows when the competitor — he who must not be named — might snatch back possession of the ball, and wrest the game away from the team we’re barracking for. But (naturally) such fears prove to be unfounded:
That night, a “core group” worked together at Meta headquarters while Mosseri and other team members chatted on an internal messaging forum, watching the sign-ups pour in. Mosseri recalled astonished team members asking, “Are we sure about these numbers? Can someone double-check that the logging isn’t messed up?”
And there we have it, the happy ending. One hundred million app signups. But wait, how can you call ever declining engagement, and plummeting time spent on the platform, a happy ending? Of course you can’t, but don’t you see where this is going? Wait for it. Wait for it. To a sequel, of course.
Watch this space, you will not be disappointed.
14 August 2023
Last week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reduced the number of active pages it has on Twitter/X to just four. The Triple J page, which I follow, was among accounts to be archived. David Anderson, managing director of the ABC, says the move follows a trial in February this year, when three accounts were shuttered:
“In February we closed three program accounts, for Insiders, News Breakfast and ABC Politics, and the results of that have been positive,” he said. Mr Anderson said the reduced activity will allow staff to focus “on the accounts that overwhelmingly provide the most value.”
The ABC has been the subject of a number of rounds of staff cuts in recent years, and doubtless archiving some of the Twitter/X pages will reduce staff workloads. Twitter/X owner Elon Musk, however hit back at the decision, labelling it censorship:
Well of course they prefer censorship-friendly social media. The Australian public does not.
What does he mean censorship, and since when has Musk had it down with the Australian public? The ABC is operating on plenty of other channels, including their website, television and radio, along with other social media services such as Facebook.
The ABC also have a number of active Threads accounts, and are looking into boosting their presence there further. Here’s hoping the page of the aforementioned Triple J is among them.
1 August 2023
A few days after Twitter rebranded as X, company owner Elon Musk announced the X interface would be permanently switched into dark mode. In the usual course of events, dark mode allows users of a website or app to temporarily swap light coloured backgrounds for darker ones.
It’s a feature intended to make looking at screens a little easier on the eyes in low light situations. Such as a dark bedroom, or heaven forbid, while at the movies.
In a tweet (if that’s what they’re still called) posted on Thursday 27 July 2023, Musk said dark mode is “better in every way”. Well, dark mode is better in some circumstances, but not all, and not all of the time either. For some people, far from being helpful, dark mode can present all sorts of difficulties.
I doubt Musk was interested in the comfort of X users though. The call to permanently plunge X into dark mode was probably more to do with the dark mode interface matching the black and white colours of the new X logo.
I flicked the email app on my laptop into permanent “dark mode” a year or two ago, and while I find it easier to view in the evenings, it just doesn’t feel right during daylight hours. Of course I could switch back to normal mode at any time, and no doubt there’s an option to automatically toggle light and dark modes anyway, if only I went looking.
If Musk’s intention, with his talk of a permanent dark mode, was to turn the conversation towards X, and away from, say, Threads, it looks like he succeeded, if only for a while. We can only wait to see what the next thing will be.
31 July 2023
Image courtesy of Igor Ovsyannykov.
The number of people using Threads, Meta’s micro-blogging app, together with the amount of time they are spending there, has continued to decline, according to Israeli web analytics company, Similarweb. It’s certainly not what a lot of people would have expected, given Threads’ awe inspiring debut in early July. Meta however maintain they are not surprised by the latest numbers, and perhaps for good reason.
While Threads signed on a record one-hundred million members in a matter of days, that could be largely attributed to the ease of joining. If you had an Instagram (IG) account, as do some two billion people, joining Threads was almost as simple as pressing a button. A person’s IG profile information was copied straight over to their Threads page, as were their followers, who had the option to follow back if and when they joined.
Aside from early adopters scrambling to score a low Threads badge number, numerous people already established on IG were keen to carry over their IG username and brand to Threads, lest someone else get in first. Threads also appealed to those disillusioned with the shenanigans of the micro-blogging platform formerly known as Twitter, who further were enticed by Threads’ ease of use, compared to alternatives such as Mastodon.
But once set up and ready to go on Threads, many Threaders were left wondering: what next? On looking more closely at Threads, members found a platform lacking not only in user options, but also a significant proportion of their friends and followers from other social networks. In addition, some users, particularly those with smaller followings, had expressed frustration at the low levels of engagement they were experiencing on Threads.
Many of these new users also had the existing social networks they were part of to consider.
Yet none of these problems are, I think, insurmountable. So long as Meta doesn’t overly Facebook-ernise Threads in the way they have IG, that is. Do we want Facebook and IG like “suggestions”, and other content we didn’t expressly opt-in for, clogging up our timelines and feeds? Not me. I’m not saying Meta shouldn’t be able to generate revenue from Threads through advertising in some form, but surely they can do so in a measured way.
What Meta needs to do is make Threads more useful. They could start by making topics of interest searchable. This was one of the highlights of Twitter/X. Finding out what’s happening elsewhere in my hometown, or why there’s a delay on the train line, was as simple as entering a phrase into the search box. Another urgently needed feature is making hashtags live. Being able to see what others are saying about the same topic was another feature that gave Twitter great value.
A list of trending topics would also be useful. As would desktop/laptop computer access to Threads. The current app-only access means I need to email posts I’ve written for other platforms to my smartphone, just to make the cross-post to Threads. And on the subject of cross-posting, how about the option to post photos and videos from IG — as we can to other Meta properties, such as Facebook — to Threads at the same time.
When it comes to boosting engagement on Threads, perhaps selected posts from users with public profiles, who are not influencers, nor have large following counts, could have more prominence in the “For you” column. At present the “For you” column seems to be the domain of the Threads rock stars, whom maybe I could refer to as the threaderati, were I to riff on that celebrated neologism from the blogosphere, bloggerati.
Threaders with modest profiles though might feel less disinclined to interact with someone closer to their level, rather than respond to an influencer who may not even see their comment. If nothing else, it might garner more interaction at grass roots level. But let’s see what eventuates. Meta have said new features are forthcoming. Now it’s a matter of waiting for them, and seeing what impact they have on the platform.
28 July 2023
Mary Winter, semiotics specialist at Australian branding agency Principals, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald, about the symbolism behind X, the new logo of Twitter, now known as X. The move possibly says a lot about what is going through the mind of Elon Musk, owner of Twitter/X.
Semiotics analysis tells us X is highly symbolic, triggering intense feelings and emotions. There are clear patterns around X in our culture signalling physical or moral danger. Case in point, X often turns up in pornography in the form of X-rated content. As something that signals moral boundaries, our minds are alert to it.
Semiotics, in case the term is new to you, is the study of the use of symbolic communication.
26 July 2023
Oliver Darcy, writing for Reliable Sources, a newsletter produced by CNN:
Twitter, the text-based social media platform that played an outsized role on society by serving as a digital town square, was killed by its unhinged owner Elon Musk on Sunday. It was 17 years old.
A zombie Twitter, known only as X, reluctantly endures. A warped and disfigured platform, X marches on like a White Walker, an ugly shell of its former self under the command of a loathsome leader.
Twitter is to be transformed, apparently, into a WeChat like app, allowing users to do all manner of things, from messaging to making payments. But that can’t be what all Twitters members signed up for. It’s like paying to see Barbie, and instead being herded into a screening of Oppenheimer. Musk could’ve bought Twitter, left it alone, and used the user base to leverage his everything app.
Perhaps Musk took inspiration from Meta’s ham-fisted efforts to “transform” Instagram into a TikTok clone. A move all the more perplexing in the wake of Meta’s relatively successful launch of Threads recently, a Twitter-like clone. If Meta wanted a TikTok clone, why not create a stand-alone app, and leverage their Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc., members, to light a fire under it. In the same way they did with Threads. And leave Instagram alone.
But who’s to understand what goes through the minds of the mega-billionaire owners of these tech companies.