(Editor note: On the morning of July 24, 2023, it was announced that Twitter would be rebranding to “X” Elon Musk rebrands Twitter to 'X,' replaces iconic bird logo)
In case you missed it, Meta and Instagram announced the release of a new app. Threads was released on July 6th, 2023. As of writing this article, there have already been over 111 million accounts made. It sounds like Twitter has a real competitor on its hands from the minds of Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Meta.
How Does It Work?
"Threads" functions similarly to Twitter, users can share their thoughts, short videos, and images with followers. The idea was to be more of a conversation as opposed to a platform like Instagram. The app even looks kind of similar to Twitter. One key aspect is that each account is tied to an Instagram account, meaning that if you want an account you've also got to be on Instagram. So what are we hoping for when a new social media takes rise? How should we use it? How can we ensure that it is still a tool to be used for good? And with the app being new, what opportunities does this present us?
First, let's start at where we've been, Twitter started out much like Threads: A place to go for a conversation. It's where you can find out what was trending and see insights on what people think about pretty much anything. Over recent years though there has been a shift, the content that gets promoted has become more sensational, there's more of a focus on the controversial, and to put it quite bluntly there's been a rise in hate speech on the platform.
So How Do We Make Threads Different?
It starts with intentionality. Social media is no different than any other tool that we may use in our daily life. A rock in the hand of the good man becomes a tool. A tool to build and create. A rock in the hand of a bad man can become a weapon. Now this is a very simplified way to look at it, but social media is essentially what we make of it. And if we choose to, we can choose to make Threads the Twitter alternative that promotes ethical digital citizenship.
I like to think of it this way, I want my social accounts and my social platforms to be places where I would not feel ashamed to have my family or to have my friends visit. They are to be places where anyone from my mom to my grandmother to my boss would feel welcomed. No one would feel excluded, singled out, or off-put by any of the content on my account.
To simplify this even further, it goes back to an old saying if you have nothing nice to say don't say it at all. Social media for a while has been a place where no matter if we have something to say it is said. But we have the power to change that with this new app, not by sweeping legislation or by lobbying the company, but by simply setting the tone, building from the ground up the place that we are proud of. A social media app where the ideal of technology being something that betters us gets one step closer to being realized.
Many of us weren't very old when Twitter first launched in 2006. And even if we were old enough, the concept of social media was so foreign, that nobody really knew what to make of it. No one really knew what it would be used for or why it would even be used in the first place. But we are presented with a unique opportunity with Threads. We Know Better. We've seen the good and the Bad and the Ugly of social media. We've had over a decade of experiences with increased connectivity, the ability to make friends with people who we would never even meet in another life. And we've even seen information shared at a scale that no one really could have ever imagined. We've also seen an increase in childhood depression, anxiety disorders, and cyberbullying.
So will Threads be another Twitter clone? Maybe. But it can also be better. It can be better for us. It can be better because of us. But it is up to us to strive for better.
How We Are Striving for Better
Our mission at Cyber Civics and Cyberwise is to help kids use social media better than we do. We start by teaching them the very simple concept that technology is just a tool, it’s how we use our tools that matter. Maybe all new users of Threads should be required to watch our student video.
Connor joined the Cyber Civics team in 2023 with experience in both social work and marketing. In 2020 he earned his LMSW in Texas where he worked as a therapist in a private practice. He made the switch from direct practice to marketing and worked with therapists to help market the profession and practice. Connor now works for Cyber Civics and Cyberwise. After earning his Bachelors's in English, Political Science, and Counseling from the University of North Texas, he went on to receive his Masters's in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Continuing his studies, he earned a certificate in Digital Marketing from the University of Texas in 2022.