Meta can suck my data: Why I’m not joining Threads

Why I’d rather stay on Twitter until Elon Musk burns the joint down

By Rae Hodge

Staff Reporter

Published July 12, 2023 6:00AM (EDT)

Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Meta's newest app, Threads, already boasts more than 100 million new users — an internet-breaking record — but as for me, I'm good. Thanks, but no thanks. Appreciate the offer (do I?), but I'm gonna pass on their attempted Twitter killer. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool tech enthusiast who marvels openly at the creative persistence of programmers on a mission to further decentralize the internet. And I do love to see billionaires waste each other's money in digital slap-fights. But I've been burned enough times by Meta. Here's why I'm not taking the bait. 

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's latest offering may have a $0 price tag but it comes with a steep buy-in. It'll cost you more of your digital privacy than many other text-based social apps, it tries to control your experience by feeding you only from the slop-trough of an algorithm, and it could end up killing your account on a different social platform if you're not careful. How fun. 

Currently, if you're an Instagram user and you join Threads — and then change your mind — you won't be able to delete your Threads account unless you delete your entire Instagram account, too. And vice versa: If you delete Insta, you lose Threads. For now, you have to settle for changing your Threads profile to private, deleting individual threads in the app, or signing up with an email address (or phone number) not associated with your Instagram account. 

"Your Threads profile is part of your Instagram account, and may be deleted at any time by deleting your Instagram account," Threads' privacy policy reads

After the online world's discovery of, and subsequent backlash over this flaw, Meta appears to be moving to change things. Trusted lieutenant of Mark Zuckerberg and head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said in a post on Threads that Instagram is aware of the issue and looking for a fix. 

"You can deactivate your Threads account, which hides your Threads profile and content," Mosseri said, "all without deleting your Instagram account. Threads is powered by Instagram, so right now it's just one account, but we're looking into a way to delete your Threads account separately."

You may remember Mosseri as the Facebook power player that in 2021 skirted questions on children's safety from a Senate Consumer Protection Committee for more than two hours following Congressional inquiries around The Facebook Papers exposé.

I'm not much of an Instagram user so, to be fair, my dog isn't in that fight. Even so, the last thing I intend to give my digital body is yet another udder that Meta can suckle in its insatiable thirst for user data. The app sucks down a sweeping 14 categories of data once installed, including personally identifiable details. 

At least the Europeans are spared — for now. Threads is so data-greedy that it can't be launched in the EU because it doesn't comply with basic GDPR rules. (That would be the General Data Protection Regulations, a core component of EU privacy and human rights laws.) 

It's impossible to determine with complete accuracy what all that user data is being funneled into, of course. But wherever it goes, the resulting Threads algorithm is going to be inescapable. 

You won't actually be able to control your feed on Threads as you can on Twitter. And it's insulting to be presented with a Twitter knock-off app which fails to do the single most important and valuable thing Twitter does: allow users to view posts in chronological order. 

Twitter became culturally important because of its usefulness to a few groups of users for whom timely dispatches are critical: protesters and journalists breaking news of real-time events, government emergency services providing real-time safety broadcasts, and users who connected in real-time about their favorite arts and entertainment events as they happened. 

With Threads, you're hostage to whatever digital slop the algorithm dishes out. There's no option for chronological order and no way to avoid seeing posts from people you don't follow. How delightfully tone-deaf and controlling. 

Even without the immediate turn-off of having to endure another ham-fisted data grab — and my refusal to be a test subject on yet another algorithm farm — Threads just sounds like a complete nightmare to even play with. 

The idea of merging Instagram and Twitter audiences sounds catastrophically hilarious. Imagine having to watch Instagram-influencer baddies try to s**tpost. Or your family and high-school friends — the audience for whom you're performatively posting your best life — seeing your deranged tweets.

The usual brand account in-migration is already making some users nauseous. Hard relate. If I have to sit through another fast-food fake-spat marketing campaign I'm liable to swallow the messy end of a Heinz 57 magnum. 

At this point, the only thing I actually like about Threads is that it's costing otherwise seemingly unaccountable billionaires lots of money, and provoking them into digital and legal slap-fights for our collective amusement. 

On Thursday, former Twitter CEO Elon Musk (whose new executive gig at the Bird Site is still unclear to most, and certainly to me) filed suit against Instagram and Zuckerberg over Threads. Musk claims Threads poached Twitter talent to fill its new bench and build the app.

I'm guessing those concerns would probably have more weight in a California court if Musk hadn't hit Twitter with a sudden tsunami of surprise layoffs after taking over. It's hard to take seriously the accusation that Meta poached Twitter's talent when Twitter's poster-in-chief sent about 10% of that talent to the unemployment line in the first place. 

The courts might also take Musk's claims more seriously if this weren't — by his own apparent admission — just a masculine fragility-measuring contest between two men with more money than God and (previously) a literal plan for a cage fight in Las Vegas. 

Am I a Twitter devotee till the end? Do I consider it the superior protocol, the better tech, the most refined and secure experience? Am I caping for Elon? 

No. But I'm tired of being treated like digital livestock and herded onto the next data-sucking machine. I'm riding out the man-baby burndown of my favorite website of all time. After that, I'll see you all on Mastodon.

By Rae Hodge

Rae Hodge is a science reporter for Salon. Her data-driven, investigative coverage spans more than a decade, including prior roles with CNET, the AP, NPR, the BBC and others. She can be found on Mastodon at 


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Commentary Digital Rights Elon Musk Meta Privacy Social Media Threads Twitter