Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Follow me on Meta Threads Under User-Name "sstrumello1"!

I was kind of hoping it wouldn't come to this, but it now seems inevitable. Twitter/X has become unsustainable as a viable social platform, so I will (eventually) be migrating to the newer rival run by Meta (fka Facebook). Recall that in August 2023, sensing that Twitter under Elon Musk's ownership would die as a social platform because the owner was clueless about running a social platform, rival Meta stepped in to fill the void with a new application it calls Threads https://www.threads.net/

I know about Jack Dorsey's BlueSky, but that new social platform still has some serious accessibility issues right now and some technical limits as well. Who knows? Maybe someday that will be my social platform of choice. Right now, there simply are not enough users on BlueSky to make it worth pursuing anyway.

I haven't (yet) completely abandoned the old Twitter, but the reality is that since Elon Musk used other people's money (along with Tesla stock) to buy the Twitter platform, it has become a cesspool of misinformation, and frankly, the platform doesn't work very well anymore. Twitter was previously the social platform of choice for journalists because it is text-based and speedy. Today, its become a barrage of irrelevant posts from individuals I do not even follow. It has become a waste of time. 

Still, in order to use Meta's Threads, individuals are required to have an Instagram account, and I have no interest in Instagram whatsoever. Instagram was acquired by Meta for kids to share selfies taken with their smartphones which never leave their hands.

Migrating to Threads was not entirely easy. 

For one thing, I don't like Instagram and had no desire to join an app known for photos taken with a smart phone. I almost never take pictures on my smart phone, and had no interest in starting now. Not only that, but not having any children of my own (and therefore not having kids glued to their smart phones), I also don't really have anyone I care to follow on Instagram. 

It was easy enough to join Instagram, and most major media outlets and a fair number of peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals also have Instagram pages, but finding them required a day on Google. I also made my Instagram profile "private" because I have no intention of using Instagram. Eventually, I was able to follow most of the entities I followed on Twitter also on Instagram; I followed about 30 on my own, 780 via Instagram and have another 203 "Pending". For me, Instagram was merely a means to an end on Threads. But as I noted, I have no interest in Instagram. Then I discovered on the Threads mobile app a way to "follow" all of the people I follow on Instagram on Threads. Those who are not yet on Threads will be on hold until they join Threads (if ever). Convoluted? Yes, but it worked.

Over the past year, Twitter has really started to fall apart. Its new owner is an incompetent, spoiled rich kid who inherited his family's wealth derived from an Apartheid-era South African emerald mine business; he's not self-made by any stretch of the imagination. He's also not a free speech absolutionist; he's been known to parrot misinformation from right-wing sources even though they are proven falsehoods. In my mind, that makes the guy a dumb buffoon. 

But I originally thought the Instagram requirement meant Threads wasn't an option for me. Because I didn't have an Instagram account, and really had no interest in acquiring one, that rendered me ineligible for Meta Threads. Also, when Threads began, it did not even have a web-based version. Thankfully, the company has since resolved that (see the BBC coverage at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-66574762 for more). Then, it occurred to me: Instagram's Terms of Service (ToS) are completely irrelevant to me because I have no intention of ever using Instagram -- ever. I could simply sign up for Instagram, follow no one on Instagram, never post anything on Instagram, nor follow anyone, and voila: my restriction on access to Threads was solved. I finally did that earlier this week. 

Find me at "sstrumello1" on Threads

My user-name on the Threads platform is "sstrumello1" (note the addition of the numeral "1" at the end). My initial focus on Threads will mainly be sharing Type 1 diabetes news, as it was on Twitter when I began on that platform more than fifteen years ago, back in 2007. To be sure, the transition will take some time. For one thing, because of the Instagram requirement, Threads is not widely available to media outlets and many scientific and medical journals are not found on the Threads platform. That makes sharing their posts impossible on Threads because most of them don't have accounts. Meta will need to fix that stupid requirement if it wants Threads to grow. Fixing the missing web component was merely a first-step, but an easy one to fix. Most journalists spend their time on their laptop computers, not their smartphones. When you become a little older, being glued to a screen only a few inches in diameter loses its appeal.

But I was with Twitter long before it grew into the world's second largest social media platform, and I still remember the days when it was limited to 140-character posts. In fact, my usage of Twitter really had not changed very much over time, and it is mostly automated for me. Occasionally, when I was travelling, I would do much more re-posting from the group of accounts I followed on Twitter, hence I expanded the list of people I followed beyond those with Type 1 diabetes. Think of entities like the Journal of the American Medical Association, or more obscure journals such as the Journal of Health Economics. Virtually every entity I could want information from is already on Twitter, and I knew what their handles were, so if I couldn't find them, I could simply type in their user-names in the search box and find their posts there. So far, Threads is smaller and not everyone is there yet.

So far, Threads isn't exactly the same. But it is close enough, aside from the considerably smaller user-base. It's been a hassle finding some relevant accounts I followed on Twitter on the Threads platform; the web-based platform is vastly better than the app-based version of the platform. I suspect that will be something which evolves over time. For example, I haven't found a number of diabetes nonprofit organizations, and a number of pharma companies in the biosimilars space aren't there, yet either. It doesn't matter too much anyway. My system works pretty well and is platform-neutral (mostly, except when I'm stuck in an airport someplace).

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