Why I won’t be joining Zuckerberg’s Threads

Pardon me for rolling my eyes at the notion of Mark Zuckerberg donning a white hat and rescuing Twitter users from the villainous Elon Musk.

When it comes to signing up for Threads, Silicon Valley’s hottest new app, count me out.

I see it as just another means for the 39-year-old gazillionaire to mine users’ data for another big payday. In Zuckerberg’s eyes, if he destroys Musk’s latest toy in the process, all the better.

Never mind if Threads is used as yet another means to spew more misinformation and disinformation as we approach a critical election year.

Don’t get me wrong. I see innovation as the cornerstone of sustained economic growth and prosperity. I also know that all technological breakthroughs carry the capacity to do both good and evil in the world. What I expect — and users should demand — is that tech leaders use those tools in a responsible fashion. Especially when they involve users’ private data and dispensing information that can influence elections.

I don’t trust Zuckerberg to do either. I’m among the 70% of users who don’t trust Facebook to responsibly handle their personal information. His track record on disinformation and misinformation is equally bad.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal was the beginning. In 2014, contractors and employees of Cambridge Analytica, owned by right-wing donor Robert Mercer, obtained the private Facebook data of tens of millions of users to build voter profiles for use in the 2016 presidential election won by Donald Trump.

Then, researchers at New York University and France’s University Grenoble Alpes found that during the 2020 U.S. election, fake news was six times more likely to be liked and shared on Facebook than real news.

In 2022, a ProPublica/Washington Post analysis of Facebook posts, internal company documents and interviews provided “clear evidence of the social media firm’s role in spreading lies that fomented the violence of Jan. 6.” Their investigation revealed that “Facebook groups swelled with at least 650,000 posts attacking the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory between Election Day and the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, with many calling for executions or other political violence.”

Yes, I have seen Zuckerberg’s comments saying the Threads team will focus on making the app “a friendly place,” which will “ultimately be the key to its success.” And Instagram boss Adam Mosseri, who is leading the Threads team, told The Verge’s Adam Heath, “There are more than enough amazing communities — sports, music, fashion, beauty, entertainment, etc. — to make a vibrant platform without needing to get into politics or hard news.”


Ask yourself, when have any of those industries ever been free of politics or hard news? Just this week, for example, the International Olympic Committee said that it would not be inviting Russia and Belarus to the 2024 Olympic Games. The list of star singers and entertainers who have used their music for political purposes dates back centuries and continues today.

I also have a hard time believing that when politicians want to post ads on the Threads site — the app doesn’t have ads yet, but it will, count on it — Zuckerberg will turn down the revenue. Nor do I believe that he will work hard to knock down the misinformation and disinformation from tens of millions of supporters generating political posts during the 2024 political campaign.

I’m not suggesting that Zuckerberg should make Threads a politics-free zone. There’s a legitimate and important role for social media companies to play in political discourse. But if Threads, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google or TikTok is going to be a purveyor of news, it needs to be responsible and guard against misinformation.

Once upon a time, people believed Facebook and other social media companies connected people for the betterment of humanity. Thanks to the likes of Zuckerberg, those days are long gone.


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