Threads, Meta's rival to the social network formerly known as Twitter, could get its most important update as soon as this week. The web-based version of the service is in testing and could be days away from launch.
I hope so, because the initial excitement over Threads has definitely abated – and I think a big part of that is because right now it's phone-only. That's a problem for a words-based social network because most of the people who write good words on the internet do so on computers – so for example Twitter's success was in part due to thousands of people bored at work or goofing off at home, posting via the web.
Threads doesn't have that right now, and that's really obvious. Engagement is reportedly down by 70% since the initial flurry of excitement (although that figure is based on stats from Android apps so may not be accurate), and while all new social networks tend to suffer from a post-launch slump it's been particularly palpable on Meta's new network. So this new feature can't come soon enough – not least because Elon Musk says he's about to get rid of the block function that makes X, aka Twitter, usable in a sea of trolls and other bad actors.
What's happening with Threads on the web?
According to the Wall Street Journal [paywall], the plan is to launch this week but it's still possible that Meta may change its mind. Instagram and Threads boss Adam Mosseri posted on Friday that the update was being tested internally but "still needs some work before we can open it up to everyone".
I hope that opening up happens sooner rather than later. A lot of my social contacts are currently on Threads, Bluesky and/or Mastodon, and the volume of their posting, their likes and their reposts on Threads is miniscule compared to the others – because like me they spend most of their working day on their PCs or Macs, not their phones, so Threads is a lunch break app rather than something you're messing around on when you're supposed to be working.
Threads is still a very young network and so its its app, and there are lots of improvements it could make – so for example it doesn't have direct messaging or a decent search yet. But I do think the web version is the biggest missing feature right now, and I think if it does indeed launch this week you'll see your feed get much busier. And that's a virtuous circle, because with social networks the more (good) chat there is, the more you'll want to take part.