Before Threads launched, Meta emphasized that the platform would be decentralized, and users could control their algorithms and the content they see. However, at launch, we see that Threads is -- in fact -- not decentralized.
Mosseri said in a post that future versions of Threads will integrate with ActivityPub, a decentralized social networking protocol that also supports Mastodon. However, he said that the team responsible for building Threads could not create the framework to support ActivityPub.
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Decentralized social networks differ from centralized networks because multiple entities control them. On a decentralized network, there is not one sole person or organization that operates the network.
Historically, Meta has not been a public proponent of decentralized networks for its social media apps. In fact, the company's apps rely heavily on walled gardens to maximize the profit made from marketing and advertising campaigns targeted at users.
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The walled garden business model is increasingly becoming scrutinized by lawmakers as antitrust laws threaten some aspects of the model's legality. But creating a decentralized alternative to Twitter has proven to be a challenge.
In November, Mastodon saw over a million ex-Twitter users but failed to keep them around. At the height of the platform's popularity, it posed a genuine threat to Musk, as he briefly banned the sharing of Mastodon links on Twitter.
But Twitter's cult following and name within the industry have kept users on the app despite the significant issues the app has encountered in the last six months. Maybe Mastodon had too much on its plate at once, or people became quickly turned off by the app's sometimes complicated, decentralized user experience.
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But late last year, Mastodon's founder disclosed that the company declined multiple investment offers from Silicon Valley in order to preserve the platform's non-profit status. Meta, on the other hand, is a for-profit company and can use that status to funnel funds and resources into its decentralized platform.
Decentralized platforms don't utilize the typical advertising tactics on Web2 social networking platforms. Mastodon doesn't have any ads whatsoever, and it's unclear how Meta's platform will make its money.
Web3, the next iteration of the web's infrastructure, currently promotes using blockchain technology to reward customers for participating in an exchange with an online vendor. It's a convoluted technology that has yet to be widely adopted.
But it could be interesting to see a company that's been in many firestorms around its questionable advertising methods and sometimes predatory algorithms pivot to a decentralized platform. Can Meta thrive on a forum that's devoid of the characteristics of the foundation of its business practices?
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Meta could be the first Web2 powerhouse to jump to Web3 technology successfully. So, maybe it's time we brush up on how to use decentralized social networking platforms.