Meta (Facebook) released yet another social media network app called “Threads by Instagram”. It’s basically a clone of the Twitter interface, but automatically lets you follow everyone you follow on Instagram. That’s the thing that made it so popular so quickly… all you have to do is log in with your Instagram account. This makes it extremely easy for Instagram users, who may think they’re too good for Facebook, to join a new Facebook-run social network that works a lot like Facebook but maybe looks a little more like Twitter.
Notably, there is one really good thing about Threads and that’s their promise to support federation via the ActivityPub standard at some point. If/when that feature is added, it will instantly make all of the 10’s of millions of Instagram/Threads users part of the open Fediverse! That hasn’t happened yet though. At the moment, Threads is still another closed-off proprietary social network. Why not get ahead of the game and learn why the Fediverse is better right now?
If you’ve still never heard of the Fediverse, see: Understanding Mastodon, the Fediverse, and why you should migrate from Twitter (pocketnow.com)
1. Hashtags actually work
One of the big ways to link social media posts to related categories has been to prefix the keywords with the # symbol which would then cause the keyword to become a link and also cause the post to show up in a listing of those keywords. This has become common practice among just about all social networks these days, except for “Threads by Instagram”.
2. Edit posts after they’ve been posted
Remember when everyone wanted the ability to edit tweets on Twitter after they’ve been tweeted? That feature was added to Twitter for a subscription price. That feature doesn’t exist on Instagram Threads, but it does exist for free in the Fediverse and specifically Mastodon.
3. No algorithm deciding what you see
Threads by Instagram is yet another centralized social network designed to collect a large number of users and then take advantage of them in order to collect a large number of business partners, and then take advantage of all of those in order to make a lot of money. You need an algorithm to make that social engineering happen.
On the Fediverse, there are no algorithms designed to take advantage of people like that. It’s literally a social network created by the people for the people. You can’t trick the algorithm into giving you more views or followers because there isn’t one. You have to actually be social and communicate with other actual people in order to gain an audience.
4. No tracking of everything you do
In Fact, Instagram Threads doesn’t even allow you to use your preferred web browser for loading external web links that you might click on in the Threads app. See: Fk You to Threads’ In-app Browser – by Aram Zucker-Scharff (schizochronotopia.com) So even if you click to read an article and then click something else in that article, Meta is getting that information through the Threads app and probably adding it all to your advertising profile.
5. Content warnings & accessibility accommodations
One really nice feature about the Fediverse that you can find in Mastodon servers is the “content warning” feature. This lets you type a subject or warning for the post and then hide the content behind a “show more” button so that people who don’t want to see whatever the content is related to can just not click the “show more” button. This is great for talking about controversial topics and also things like movie & TV show spoilers.
Most Fediverse instances are also designed to be extremely accommodating of accessibility features. It is easy to and highly encouraged to add alternate text descriptions to the images that you post, thus making the network of social networks much easier to use with screen readers.
6. Large ecosystem of apps & web UIs
At the moment, you can only access Threads by Instagram in the official app downloadable from the Android Google Play store or Apple iOS store. There is no web browser interface and there are no 3rd party apps that might bring better management features or UI designs. On the Fediverse, there is a large ecosystem of 3rd party custom interface options. If you use a Mastodon server, you don’t have to use the “Mastodon” app, you can use any of the ActivityPub compatible Fediverse apps. You don’t even have to use the default web interface. There are numerous others to choose from.
7. Transfer your followers/follows to other servers
While Threads makes it very easy to import your follows from Instagram, you’re still stuck with having to use Meta’s data-laundering business model to interact with those people. On the Fediverse, you can change servers and import/export all of your connections whenever you want. Unfortunately posts do not transfer between servers, but it’s a really awesome feature that you can specify a new account name on a new server and the old server will transfer everything else to the new one. Links to your account on the old server will also be met with a message indicating the location of your new account. While I haven’t tried it, this can probably work between completely different Fediverse platforms as well since the import/export functions use simple CSV (comma separated values) files.
8. A real opportunity for self agency
Another huge advantage with the Fediverse over centralized social media networks is the huge opportunity for self agency. Just about all of the Fediverse server types are open-source and self-host-capable. That means you can make your own server in your house or office or any cloud platform and have full control over your features and data. You decide what other servers you federate with, you decide who else can use your server, you decide exactly what happens with your data. With Instagram, Threads, Facebook, & WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg has control over all of those choices, not you. On the Fediverse, you could be in complete control over your own little section that federates with everyone else.