Instagram’s new Threads app is “not going to do anything to encourage” politics and “hard news,” Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said in a Threads conversation with The Verge’s Alex Heath.
The additional scrutiny, negativity, and integrity risks that come with politics and hard news aren’t worth the “incremental engagement or revenue,” Mosseri wrote. “There are more than enough amazing communities — sports, music, fashion, beauty, entertainment, etc. — to make a vibrant platform without needing to get into politics or hard news.” (Mosseri’s strong point of view here is likely informed by his time running Facebook’s News Feed.)
In recent years, Meta has distanced itself from news and politics, including reducing the amount of political content that users see on Facebook. It even dropped “News” from the name of the Facebook Feed last year. The company also responded to a new Canadian law that would require it to pay for local news by saying it will yank news from Facebook and Instagram in the country.
The Instagram boss later clarified his initial response, stating that while Threads won’t “discourage or down-rank news or politics,” it won’t “court” them as Facebook has in the past. “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,” Mosseri said.
While Threads is assuredly a take on Twitter, a platform tying itself in knots under new ownership, Mosseri is apparently thinking much bigger. Following along with his boss, Mark Zuckerberg’s statement about finding a “clear path to 1 billion people,” Mosseri said:
The goal isn’t to replace Twitter. 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.
Threads launched on Wednesday and has proven to be a big hit; it’s already surpassed 70 million signups. But the vibe, so far, is decidedly not like what you might be familiar with from Twitter: the only available feed is an algorithmic one, and that feed is already flooded with celebrities and brands.
Still, it seems inevitable that politics and news will trickle onto Threads in some way, especially if politicians and journalists use the platform during the 2024 presidential election cycle. And Instagram is working on a feed just for people you follow and a chronological feed, which, at least for me, should make Threads a much more useful place to find news. But it sounds like Instagram won’t be going out of its way to make Threads what Twitter once was — so don’t get your hopes up for some kind of Thread-Deck.
Update July 7th, 5:28PM ET: Added further context from Mosseri.