Instagram head Adam Mosseri has a message for the masses hoping that Meta’s Threads can be Twitter 2.0: Don’t hold your breath.
Mosseri made clear that he does not envision the newest Twitter competitor as a place where hard news and politics will be welcomed. No one will stop such conversations from occurring, but the platform isn’t going to go out of its way to court those communities.
“Politics and hard news are important, I don’t want to imply otherwise,” he said in a series of messages. “But my take is, from a platform’s perspective, any incremental engagement or revenue they might drive is not at all worth the scrutiny, negativity (let’s be honest), or integrity risks that come along with them.”
The admission of one of Meta’s top officials is not terribly surprising. Facebook has slowly backed away from its investments in news. The congressional scrutiny after the 2016 presidential election also made it clear that social media platforms would face a significant degree of oversight. Twitter outright banned political ads in 2019 amid the uproar, an action that was not reversed until CEO Elon Musk took over.
Mosseri’s comments come at a time when sign-ups for the new app are booming even as its features remain relatively bare bones. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said there have been 70 million sign-ups as of Thursday morning app.
The numbers easily position Threads as the largest rival to Twitter after a series of other apps have struggle to gain widespread acceptance. High-profile members of Congress, such as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have also begun to establish a presence.
Meanwhile, the political world remains eager to see how the White House will proceed. It was a major moment when President Barack Obama joined Twitter in 2015 as @POTUS. For now, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says that she, like the rest of us, remains “curious about it.”
Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz and other journalists pressed Mosseri on how any social media app can truly have designs on being a “global public square” if talking about politics is discouraged.
“We won’t discourage or down-rank news or politics, we just won’t court them the way we have in the past,” Mosseri responded. “If we are honest, we were too quick to promise too much to the industry on Facebook in the early 2010s, and it would be a mistake to repeat that…”
Meta’s current stance would be a stark contrast to Twitter during its peak, pre-Elon Musk days. The social network actively cultivated a presence in newsrooms and on Capitol Hill. It partnered with the organization overseeing presidential debates. Twitter employees even flocked to political conventions.
“The goal isn’t to replace Twitter,” Mosseri said. “The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter.”