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Is Meta’s Twitter Alternative “Threads” Decentralized?

With Twitter seemingly struggling to keep users on their platform ever since Elon Musk took over the company, Meta has taken the opportunity to offer people their new “Threads” app.

This new social media app is connected to your Instagram and offers a new way to communicate with people and groups around the world. But is Threads a decentralized alternative to Twitter like Nostr or Mastodon, or is it just another way to mine your data and sell it? Let’s jump in.

Meta Threads

What is Threads?

Threads is a new social media product that has been launched by Meta (formerly Facebook). It’s meant to be a text based social media, much like Twitter, and can easily be signed up for through your Instagram account. That’s about it, there’s nothing inherently special about Threads compared to Twitter or alternatives which we’ll talk about shortly.

Is Threads Decentralized Like Nostr or Mastodon?

Threads is promising to bring ActivityPub, the protocol used by Mastodon, to Threads, but with no indication of when. If they were to do that, it would mean that technically you could interact with Threads through Mastodon without having to sign up for Meta’s platform. This would be about as close to decentralized as Threads can get because the reality is that the Threads platform itself is far from decentralized.

Much like Facebook and Instagram, the main purpose of Threads is to harvest your data as a user and then sell it to companies who will then try to sell you relevant products. Threads is in no way meant to be a decentralized platform like Nostr or Mastodon, which has no single authority. Threads on the other hand, is controlled by Meta, and they control all the data, what’s done with it, and what you can do on the platform.

If you look into the details on the app on your favorite app store, you’ll see that there are 14 categories of data that “may be collected and linked to your identity.” Not exactly a small amount of data. By comparison, WhatsApp, which is also owned by Meta, only collects 9 categories of data, meaning that Threads is more intrusive.

What To Do?

Now, if you’re not already using something like Mastodon, Nostr, or Bluesky (coming soon), you may be wondering whether you should join Threads. Personally, I’d say no, but it’s up to you. It doesn’t seem worth the data that is being collected, and truly decentralized social media does exist and is being improved upon. The other caveat is that if you do sign up for Threads, you can’t delete your account unless you also delete your Instagram. You can disable your Threads account, unless you delete your Instagram, they won’t delete your Threads, meaning they will still use your data.

Platforms like Nostr and Mastodon are already easily accessible, and while they may not feel like your favorite social media platform yet, give it some time, change can be hard to adjust to. In the long run, you’ll likely enjoy being free of intrusive data mining and algorithms that control what you see.

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About the Author

Evan Jones

Evan Jones was introduced to cryptocurrency by fellow CryptoVantage contributor Keegan Francis in 2017 and was immediately intrigued by the use cases of many Ethereum-based cryptos. He bought his first hardware wallet shortly thereafter. He has a keen and vested interest in cryptos involving decentralized backend exchanges, payment processing, and power-sharing.

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