Skip to main content

Celebs and Politicians Join Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter Clone Threads - Why Didn't They Join the Fediverse Instead?

When the news that Elon Musk had acquired a controlling stake in Twitter broke in April 2022, I immediately left the platform.


I had joined the birdsite ten years earlier and I really enjoyed it until 2016, when political events and the newly introduced engagement algorithm turned it into what — in my personal opinion some will disagree with — was a cesspool of anger, outrage, disinformation, shallow takes and tribalism.

Threads. Google Play Store screenshot




Nuanced and constructive debate became nearly impossible. Ideologically homogeneous microtribes hostile to any form of disagreement, engaging in online feuds and dunking contests, proliferated. By 2021 I had grown tired of it all, spending less and less time on the platform.


However, Musk's purchase of Twitter was the last straw. I quit it altogether and moved to Wikitribune Social and to the fediverse.


I became a big fan of the fediverse (a portmanteau of "federation" and "universe"), which is an ensemble of interconnected (federated) servers independently hosted but able to communicate with each other.


The concept behind the fediverse is that it is decentralised. Each server is run independently, therefore no single corporation can control it. Servers usually run on a non-profit basis, funded by donations.


I thought that Musk's takeover of Twitter might perhaps awaken people to the danger of the internet being controlled by oligarchs with dubious motives and authoritarian political views. I hoped that pro-democracy politicians, the White House, influential people like Barack Obama, Robert Reich, Ruth Ben-Ghiat and celebrities would join the fediverse and tell their millions of followers to do the same. If that had happened, Twitter would have imploded and been relegated to the status of yet another far right echochamber like Parler.


However, that did not happen. The big accounts mostly remained loyal to Twitter. It turns out that they had invested so much time in the platform and amassed such a huge following that they had become addicted to and/or dependent on it. They could have broken the shackles of corporate control. But the shackles were too strong.


Then, on July 5, 2023, Meta launched its Twitter clone Threads.


Within the first seven hours it gained over 10 million users, according to a post by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Plenty of celebrities jumped onboard the new platform. Among them are:


•Ellen DeGeneres, 75.4 million Twitter followers. Her first post on the new app was: "Welcome to Gay Twitter!"

•Bill Gates, 62.9 million Twitter followers.

•Shakira, 53.8 million Twitter followers.

•Jennifer Lopez, 44.9 million Twitter followers.

•Oprah Winfrey, 42.2 million Twitter followers.


The most puzzling one to me was Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has 13.3 million followers on Twitter. Her first Threads post was:

"Alright, let's do this thing! May this platform have good vibes, strong community, excellent humor, and less harassment."


For months, there was a non-profit alternative to Twitter. To my knowledge, only very few big Twitter accounts, like George Takei, moved to the fediverse (I'm not counting mirror accounts that automatically reposted their Twitter content on the fediverse).


Considering AOC's very left-wing opinions (far to the left of me), I find it baffling that she waited for another billionaire oligarch to offer her an alternative to motivate her to jump ship.


I marvel at why a non-profit solution did not manage to go mainstream, to grow into the public town square that is not owned by any single corporate entity. Perhaps it will at some point. Yet thus far Threads seems to be catching on much more quickly.


Having said that, I am not an absolutist. I am active on various corporate platforms. I welcome more competition, which is essential. I don't like oligopolies. The fediverse is far from perfect and I had to take breaks from it. However, it remains a huge opportunity that so many influential people ignored or chose not to seize.


———
 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Window Trick of Las Vegas Hotels

When I lived in Hong Kong I often passed by a residential apartment complex commonly known as the " monster building ".  " Interior of the Yick Cheong Building November 2016 " by  Nick-D  is licensed under  CC BY-SA 4.0 . _____

Living in Taiwan: Seven Reasons Why It's Good to Be Here

Chinese New Year can be a pretty boring time for a foreigner. All of my friends were celebrating with their families, and since I have no family here, nor have I a girlfriend whose family I could join, I had nothing special to do. Shops and cafes were closed - apart from big chains like McDonald's or Starbucks, which were overcrowded anyway. So I had a lot of time to think. On Saturday evening I went out to buy my dinner. While I was walking around, I heard the voices of the people inside their homes, the sounds of their New Year celebrations. Then I suddenly asked myself: "What on earth are you doing here? Why are you still in Taiwan?"  Before I came to Taiwan, some Taiwanese friends of mine had recommended me their country, highly prasing it and going so far as to say that Taiwan is a "paradise for foreigners" (bear in mind that when I say foreigners I mean 'Westerners').  "It's easy for foreigners to find a job," t

Is China's MINISO Copying Japan's MUJI, UNIQLO and Daiso?

Over the past few years Japanese retailers such as UNIQLO and MUJI have conquered foreign markets, opening shops in cities such as Paris, Berlin or New York and becoming household names in several countries. But the success of their business model seems to have inspired people with dubious intentions. As the website Daliulian recently showed, a new chain called MINISO, which claims to be a Japanese company selling ‘100% Japanese products’, seems to be nothing more than a knock-off of UNIQLO, MUJI and Daiso, copying their logos, names and even the layout of their stores. The company’s webpage proudly announces – in terrible English – that “ MINISO is a fast fashion designer brand of Japan. Headquartered in Tokyo Japan, Japanese young designer Miyake Jyunya is founder as well as the chief designer of MINISO, a pioneer in global 'Fashion & Casual Superior Products' field. ” According to the company’s homepage, MINISO advocates the philosophy of a simple,

Macau: Gambling, Corruption, Prostitution, and Fake Worlds

As I mentioned in my previous post , Macau has different faces and identities: there is the old Macau, full of colonial buildings and in which the pace of life seems to resemble a relaxed Mediterranean town rather than a bustling, hectic Chinese city, such as Hong Kong or Shanghai. On the other hand, there is the Macau of gambling, of gigantic hotel and casino resorts, and of prostitution. These two Macaus seem to be spatially separated from each other, with an intact colonial city centre and nice outskirts with small alleys on the one side, and bombastic, modern buildings on the other.  The Galaxy - one of the huge casino and hotel resorts The Importance of Gambling for Macau's Economy Dubbed the 'Monte Carlo of the East', Macau has often been portrayed as the gambling capital of China. Media reporting on Macau tend present pictures of the city's glistening, apparently luxurious skyline. But a visit in Macau suffices to realize that it is fa

Trip to Tainan

Tainan Train Station Last weekend I made a one day trip to the Southern Taiwanese city of Tainan (Chinese: 臺南, pinyin: Táinán), the former capital and one of the most important centres of culture, history and architecture of the island. This blog post is also intended as a special thank to Grace, a Taiwanese friend who was so kind to show me around, and very patient, too. Since Tainan doesn't have an extensive public transport net, Grace picked me up at the train station with her motorcycle, a vehicle that, along with cars, is regarded by locals as indispensable for living comfortably in Tainan. To my great embarrassment, though, I had to admit that I cannot ride a motorcycle. That's why we had to take busses to move around. It was the first time she ever took a bus in Tainan. And now I know why: busses come more or less every half an hour, and service stops early in the evening. No wonder Tainanese snob public transport. Grace had no idea about the routes and about whe