The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Zombie Twitter has arrived

By Ian Bogost and Charlie Warzel

06 Jul 2023 · 6 min read

informed Summary

  1. Instagram has launched a new feature called Threads, which is similar to Twitter, allowing users to publish text posts. The feature was developed in response to the changes and instability on Twitter since it was bought by Elon Musk.

Threads is here. It’s Twitter, but on Instagram. If that makes sense to you, we’re sorry, and also, you are the target audience for Threads: people who like to publish text posts on the internet but say they have ~worries~ (with tildes, just like that) about Elon Musk, the billionaire-king who now owns the bird app. Threads might bring excitement, even hope to those who have benefited from posting short bits of online text to the world—journalists, influencers, white nationalists, #brands, et al. But those feelings may be misguided. Social media cannot become good again, because we will not let it evolve. It can merely live and die over and over, like a zombie.

With great exhaustion, we hereby rehearse the backstory. In 2006, a handful of mostly already successful tech entrepreneurs started Twitter as a weird experiment for posting short textual quips. This idea was novel: People blogged at the time, but blogs demanded commitment, and even short blog posts were long. Email and Facebook were all semi-private; you talked to your friends or your unfortunate uncle. Smartphones weren’t widespread, and the notion of posting your lunch or your extremely misguided political views to the world was iconoclastic.

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