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Instagram’s Threads ‘trap’ exposes the reason why Facebook is still alive

On July 5, Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Meta’s Twitter competitor – Threads. While the app surged to popularity in no time, becoming the first app to gain 10 million users in just seven hours, the hype around it seemed to have fizzled out at the same speed. Many users even tried deactivating their Threads accounts; however, that’s when they realized they fell in the ‘trap.’

Users weren’t aware that deactivating their Threads account would also require deleting their Instagram account. “You may deactivate your Threads profile at any time, but your Threads profile can only be deleted by deleting your Instagram account,” the Threads Supplemental Privacy Policy underscores.

“Twitter-killer” or an “Instagram trap”?

Recent disruptions in the Twitter user experience magnified the newfound attention toward Threads. This was amplified by Elon Musk’s announcement of introducing “rare limits,” which effectively capped the volume of posts users could access. Musk cited “extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation” carried out by AI firms as the reason behind the imposition of these limits.

“Twitter-killer” Threads, on the other hand, is a different app from Instagram. It heavily borrows its feed page from Twitter, which is populated by text-oriented posts coming from users. However, one would require authentication through their Instagram account to get a Threads account. Consequently, the app imports your username and verification status from your Instagram. Besides, you also get the option to transfer your profile image, bio, and other details to the new platform.

Well, ironically, criticism aimed at Threads has gained traction on Twitter. Author Emily Hughes’ tweet on the matter managed to get over 3 million views. She wrote, “I deactivated my Threads account already but it turns out you can’t delete your Threads account *without also deleting your Instagram account* so maybe just don’t sign up!”

This situation has led to many calling this new app a “trap,” resembling a Faustian bargain.

Is this how Meta keeps Facebook alive?

Well, such a move shouldn’t shock users, given it’s coming from Meta. The company has a history of using the influence of its acquired social media services — WhatsApp and Instagram — to stay relevant and keep its user base intact, especially when Facebook is witnessing losing its dominance. This scenario further sheds light on the rationale behind the arguments of several antitrust experts, who contended that Meta should’ve been disassembled a long ago.

Threads was introduced in the wake of two antitrust complaints initiated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These complaints were filed against Meta, seeking Meta to sell Instagram and WhatsApp because they thought Meta wasn’t being fair to these firms. The initial legal notice against Facebook was initiated in December 2020, and it claimed that its acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram were strategic steps to beat the competition.

The FTC pursued a second lawsuit in 2022; however, both of these complaints were dismissed through legal proceedings. However, If you are someone who’s regretting your decision to create an account on Threads, deleting it means only one thing — bidding farewell to your Instagram account.

Deactivating Threads won’t stop data sharing

It’s worth mentioning that the Threads app is not available in the European Union (EU) at the moment. This is because the EU is worried about how Threads and Instagram share user data, which could impact people’s privacy. According to a Bloomberg report, unnamed insiders have suggested that Meta is holding off on launching the new platform in the EU until they get clearer guidance from the Digital Markets Act. This new law brings guidelines for online platforms and how they use their power in the market.

While it’d be a bitter pill to swallow, if you decide to deactivate your Threads account, your posts won’t be visible to any of your followers. However, your information will stay on the app’s servers unless you delete the account along with the Instagram account.

The app gathers the same kind of information as Instagram, including details about your exercise and health, your whereabouts, contacts, search history, and how you interact with the app.

Apart from deleting Instagram accounts to get rid of Threads, people are concerned about how closely these two platforms are connected. For instance, when you create an account on Threads, it asks if you wish to follow the same people you follow on Instagram. And that’s raising a lot of eyebrows.

Meta’s history of copying features

Meta is infamous for adopting the design and features of popular or already-existing apps. For instance, Instagram Stories were inspired by Snapchat. Besides, Snapchat also introduced Augmented Reality technology to its app with its extensive collection of AR filters. Soon, the feature was seen on Instagram’s app as well.

Moreover, Instagram’s Reels feature was inspired by TikTok, which took the world by storm. Notably, two highly followed Instagram users, Kylie Jenner, and Kim Kardashian, even initiated a petition urging Meta to refrain from imitating TikTok. The list doesn’t stop there, Instagram’s Remix feature which lets you offer real-time responses to other people’s content, has also been inspired by TikTok.

In July, Meta came up with a feature called Dual, which heavily resembled the emerging social platform BeReal. Despite Meta’s monopolistic ambitions losing their charm due to a lack of innovation and betting big on misguided trends like the metaverse, Threads showcases the company’s continued capability and willingness to capitalize on the remaining pieces of its dominion.

Although the company might have a fair chance with the latest social network, it isn’t devoid of potential pitfalls. In its quest to churn out more revenues, Meta has exposed itself to diversions in its against TikTok. Moreover, Threads could spread the company’s focus thin, potentially diminishing the robust connectivity of its core apps. If history is anything to go by, we’ve seen that big social media platforms haven’t typically fostered a friendly atmosphere, and Meta’s expectations might be unrealistic if it believes it can simply create a cheerful iteration of Twitter.

Vishal Kawadkar
About author

With over 8 years of experience in tech journalism, Vishal is someone with an innate passion for exploring and delivering fresh takes. Embracing curiosity and innovation, he strives to provide an informed and unique outlook on the ever-evolving world of technology.