Tedium - Finish The Job, Adam 🧹

Annoyed by Meta’s half-finished fediverse integration.

Hunting for the end of the long tail • June 21, 2024

Finish The Job, Adam

If Meta is going to support the fediverse, it needs to actually support people who don’t live on Threads. No lip service. No half-finished betas.

Maybe this makes me a stick in the mud, but I remember a point about six years ago where it came out that Facebook lied to hundreds of large publishers and advertisers.

It told them a few years prior that users wanted video content. But it was a fact built on faulty data that the company was slow to explain was faulty, and it led to layoffs across the media industry. The media industry is still hurting because of what happened here, more than half a decade later.

For that reason and myriad others, the company known as Meta is not to be trusted. So I don’t.

As a result, while I’m mostly quietly sticking with a personal Facebook account to keep in touch with real-life friends (with the ads blocked by a dedicated browser extension), I’ve refused to follow them to other platforms. I have a Threads account that I use to basically complain about Threads not being very good. Recently, I’ve started a small, quiet campaign. Every day, I post a basic message:

I hope Adam Mosseri sees every single one and it grates on him.

Here’s why. A while back, Meta made a promise that it was going to bring Threads to the fediverse. It has been deeply controversial; people on the fediverse worried it was going to ruin the whole thing. But thus far, it’s largely been a nothingburger for two reasons: One, Meta seems to have made it a one-way affair, where only people on Threads can be followed, and not vice-versa; and two, the platform regularly encourages people to turn off the fediverse integration, despite the fact that people turned it on for a reason. Essentially, they have added a dark pattern to discourage you from keeping the feature on.

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So we have a situation where people can post to the fediverse if they use Threads, but they can’t see who replied to their posts on the fediverse, they can’t interact with those people, and by putting up a periodic dialog reminding them to turn it off, Meta seems to be encouraging them to stop, even though they’re the one that built the bridge. It seems like Meta has developed a one-way engine to encourage current fediverse users to join Threads to interact with people they follow on the fediverse.

It feels increasingly likely that Meta believes they can win the text-based social space by stopping here and not doing anything else.

Recently, I got an unsolicited nudge to post more on Threads from a friend, from someone who wanted to keep up with me. I should not have to, because Meta promised me a future where I would not have to. Simply put, I’m asking Adam Mosseri to finish the job. If you’re going to enter the fediverse, enter the fediverse.

Or is this another lie, like the pivot to video?

The thing is, companies like Meta have long failed to do things in ways that could be seen as beneficial to consumers, instead favoring their bottom lines. Examples that underline this point are prevalent, but we just got a new one: As Karissa Bell wrote for Engadget this week, people frustrated with the absolute lack of customer support the company offers have taken to small claims court to get the company to do things that a customer support line should be responsible for—like return accounts that they’ve been locked out of. As she writes in the piece:

Facebook and Instagram users have long sought creative and sometimes extreme measures to get hacked accounts back due to Meta’s lack of customer support features. Some users have resorted to hiring their own hackers or buying an Oculus headset since Meta has dedicated support staff for the device (users on Reddit report this “method” no longer works). The small claims approach has become a popular topic on Reddit forums where frustrated Meta users trade advice on various “methods” for getting an account back. People Clerk, a site that helps people write demand letters and other paperwork required for small claims court, published a help article called “How to Sue facebook,” in March.

Things are so bad that attorneys general from 41 states—that is, almost all of them—have called on the company to stop abusing the legal system because it doesn’t want to pay for customer support.

In a perfect world, people who are okay with the potential risks of trusting a company that is this user-hostile could just use the service, and those who don’t want to use Facebook can just choose to not use them, and live somewhere else on the fediverse.

But choosing to only implement part of the contract of how the fediverse works, in a way that conveniently benefits Meta? That’s BS, even if it’s still in beta. It’s a self-serving beta—and the fediverse deserves better than this self-serving beta.

I’m sure someone out there is going to say, “Suck it up, Ernie, you work in public and this is a place where you need to be.” I don’t see it that way. Threads is tainted because of its owner. It always will be.

You can look past it. I can’t. And I hate that I have to say this, but: Elon Musk may ban journalists and push ugly politics, but Mark Zuckerberg’s company actively weakens institutions, whether by omission or intention. I think I’ve decided which one’s worse, and it’s not the attention-seeker talking off the cuff.

Is Meta going to support the fediverse, or is it just going to keep this lame half-solution, so it can use the fediverse as a way to seed users back into its walled garden?

And to fellow journalists: Please don’t include Meta in the discussion of the fediverse until it actually finishes the job. It’s not actually on the fediverse until the integration goes both ways. No matter how much they talk it up.

Meta (But Not Meta) Links

On the beat of every-news-outlet-covering-one-story, Verge features editor Kevin Nguyen shows how Game of Thrones recaps may have played into online journalism’s worst tendencies.

I love this wonderful video critiquing James Rolfe, the creator of The Angry Video Game Nerd. I think the reason I do is that Dan from Folding Ideas really leans into the idea that he might be the problem, rather than James.

The irony of Noam Chomsky being the subject of false reports of his passing was not lost on CBC News.

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