In my blog post at the end of 2022, I had a little fun making some predictions about the social media landscape for the upcoming year. Now, with the launch of Meta’s Threads, it’s time to revisit those predictions and see how they’re holding up.
Parts of Twitter will continue to break or be removed entirely, and we may see some outages and features go away.
Just a few days ago, we saw one of the worst changes to Twitter yet. As a way to try and save costs, Twitter introduced rate limiting that started to prevent users from seeing tweets and even preventing them from posting.
There hasn’t been much change in TikTok, Tumblr, and Facebook yet. TikTok was banned in Montana, but it doesn’t officially go into effect until next year. Even then, there’s currently no way for either the app itself to enforce it, and app stores aren’t capable of enforcing the ban either. Politically, there hasn’t been much focus on it lately either, almost as if politicians have already given up.
I think we’ll see something new from Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s former CEO, in the form of his Blue Sky project. It will probably be a very exclusive closed beta with a waitlist to join.
With more and more outages at Twitter, Bluesky has seen a tremendous boost, with invites selling anywhere between $25-$80 apiece. Long-term, I still have some doubts about whether it will ever fully replace Twitter or not. The platform is still without a number of what’s now considered standard features when it comes to moderation, making it hard to curb harassment. As of a couple of weeks ago, a block function still wasn’t even implemented yet.
There are also growing concerns over the “at” protocol itself, the core functionality that makes the entire platform decentralized. In theory, anyone could host their own version of Bluesky and communicate with others, but the requirements make it nearly impossible for a normal user to set up and run.
Besides the lack of moderation and decentralization concerns, Bluesky is also experiencing some growing pains, with some threads not even able to load correctly, and account creation was briefly turned off for those lucky enough to have invitation codes.
Speaking of threads, Meta also finally launched their notes app, Threads, which turned out to be even more of a Twitter clone than some anticipated.
I think there’s also a good chance we’ll see Instagram replace Twitter as a global news/reporting platform if they continue to focus on notes, and somehow fix discoverability and can make a chronological timeline view front and center. It probably won’t happen, and instead, we’ll see more of Facebook pushed into the app, where they eventually merge into a single platform in a couple of years.
The launch went almost perfectly too, with over 70 million users trying it out in the first few days. Much of that can be thanks to how tightly integrated it seems to be with Instagram, as it requires an Insta account to sign up, and you can easily bring over all the accounts you follow too. It does, however, force you to delete your entire Instagram account to delete your Threads account if you decide the platform isn’t right for you.
The timeline is also chaotic, featuring people you follow and seemingly random threads you might be interested in, with no option for just a timeline of chronological posts. Kind of annoying for users, but for right now, it also means there’s more chance to get others to discover and follow you.
I kind of expected it to launch as a scaled-back version of Twitter for now, but the biggest surprise for me was the Fediverse notice you see when logging in for the first time:
But what does this mean? Right now, it’s too early to tell, but with this upcoming feature, we could potentially see a much more open social media experience. But given how Zuck tried to control the “Metaverse,” I can see this as his Trojan horse for controlling a decentralized platform too.
Threads, also like Instagram, do not allow the same kind of adult content that Twitter does. Twitter, in a lot of ways, remains a “safe” place for SW (sex work) and adult content, which will prevent a small niche from ever abandoning that platform.
By the end of the year, however, I think we’ll still see at least one more major blow to Twitter, as some sort of safe haven platform for adult content steals the remaining Twitter followers. It won’t be as something as risqué as OnlyFans, but not as restrictive as Meta either. My money is still on Bluesky if they can get the branding right.
As the year progresses, social media platforms continue to evolve and face various challenges. While Twitter’s setbacks grow, potential replacements like Bluesky and Threads will grow. The future remains uncertain, but one thing is clear: social media’s landscape is ever-changing, and we can expect more surprises and shifts in the months to come.
Well, this post was just about ready to go live when Musk decided to do something spectacularly dumb in a way only he could- renaming Twitter to 'X'. Predictably, the move has been as smooth as a gravel road. If you've been following at all, you'll know that he's held onto the x.com domain since his PayPal days. Seems like he's still nursing some old wounds over not getting to use that brand back then.
If I didn't know better, I'd also say Musk's rebranding ideas seem less like they're coming from a billionaire CEO and more like they've been cooked up by an angsty 14-year-old. His puppet CEO, Linda Yaccarino was left to explain the change in a
tweet, I mean post:
“X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine."
Hold up, payments and banking? Powered by AI? Wasn't Musk warning us about the dangers of AI not so long ago? Guess he's only worried if he's not the one in control.