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8 Oct, 2023 16:00

The father of Facebook doesn’t understand social media anymore

Mark Zuckerberg's Meta flops with its Threads App and WhatsApp Channels amid copycat controversy and accessibility debacles
The father of Facebook doesn’t understand social media anymore

In the world of social media business, where revenues are on the decline and the social media industry faces pressing commercial challenges, a fundamental principle comes to the fore: Adapt or risk fading into obscurity, reminiscent of MySpace’s fate. To everyone’s surprise, Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, chose to launch two new platforms amidst the shifting sands of the social media world. Was it a personal vendetta against Elon Musk, or did he simply bypass the innovation that typically fuels platform success, opting instead to replicate the ideas of others? The results, alas, were far from stellar.

In this realm, where new social media players perpetually strive to challenge established giants, Meta, under the leadership of the somewhat uncharismatic Mark Zuckerberg, has consistently sought to redefine the game. However, recent endeavors, notably Threads and WhatsApp Channels, have cast doubt on Meta’s strategy and Zuckerberg’s approach. 

Threads, initially positioned as a potential rival to Twitter (or X now), appeared promising at first glance. But upon closer inspection, a familiar pattern emerged – Meta’s tendency to replicate rather than innovate. Threads seemed to mimic Elon Musk’s Twitter presence, but struggled to retain its users. While Threads did rocket to 100 million users within five days of its early July launch, it hemorrhaged more than half of them within two weeks. Zuckerberg himself acknowledged this precipitous decline, expressing a desire for sustained user engagement. Despite being hailed as the “fastest-growing app in history,” the platform’s true source of users, possibly re-routed from Instagram, raises questions about its validity as the “fastest-borrowed” app.

This fleeting hype left Threads unlikely to have a lasting impact beyond generating media headlines. Its fundamental issue lies in its unclear purpose, or perhaps its lack thereof. Threads introduced no novel features or competitive advantages and debuted in a somewhat incomplete state, missing essential functions expected on a social media platform. It felt more like Zuckerberg’s personal jab at Musk, stemming from their longstanding feud, rather than a genuine effort to innovate.

The absence of spontaneous, controversial subjects – censored to the point of resembling a Twitter feed from North Korea – further detracted from Threads’ appeal.

However, the core challenge with Zuckerberg’s platforms lies in censorship. It extends beyond content moderation to the accessibility of the platforms themselves. Threads was initially unavailable in Europe and other parts of the world outside the United States for months following its launch – a significant misstep. Zuckerberg seems to be repeating this mistake with his latest endeavor, WhatsApp Channels. Here, too, Meta chose imitation over innovation, blatantly replicating Telegram’s Channels feature.

Both Threads and WhatsApp Channels are emblematic of a more substantial issue – Meta’s heavy-handed censorship. While their aim may have been to curate a “nice” and “woke” environment, they inadvertently created exclusive clubs where only the chosen few could thrive. Contacting the customer support or service teams at these social media projects often leads to automated bot interactions, which raises questions about the involvement of human personnel at Meta’s headquarters.

As we examine the outcomes of these Meta ventures, a valuable lesson emerges: In the realm of social media, authenticity and originality should be paramount. Meta’s penchant for imitation, coupled with stringent censorship, has yielded lackluster results. Threads and WhatsApp Channels serve as stark reminders that replication without innovation leads to initial hype followed by inevitable disappointment. The essence of social media should be creativity, enthusiasm, and open dialogue, rather than mere imitation and exclusivity.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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