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‘ThreadsDeck’ arrived just in time for the Trump verdict

Yes, we’re calling it “ThreadsDeck” now.

At least that’s the tag many are using to describe the new user interface for Instagram’s X competitor, Threads, which resembles the column-based format of Twitter’s old app TweetDeck (now X Pro). Two weeks after first testing the functionality that allows Threads users to pin columns to the home screen of its desktop web app, Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced on Thursday that this alternative view was starting to roll out globally — just in time for everyone to discuss the hottest political news of the year: the Trump verdict.

The new user interface option positions Threads as a more serious X rival for those in search of real-time news and information, as it notably allows users to work around Meta’s ill-thought-out decision to distance itself from political discussions across Instagram’s platforms. In February, the company announced that both Instagram and Threads would no longer “proactively” recommend political content — an odd choice for a would-be Twitter/X competitor in an election year.

It’s not hard to understand why the company came to this decision. Meta has been repeatedly dragged into the political fray, particularly in the U.S. where it’s been accused by Republicans of censoring free speech and by Democrats of being too soft on misinformation and disinformation. With its entry into the real-time social networking space and its positioning of Threads as an alternative public forum to Elon Musk’s X, Meta soon caught the attention of House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) last year.

When Threads was only a few weeks old, Jordan wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg with questions about the app’s content moderation policies. Here we go again, Meta likely thought.

Instead of dealing with the headache, Threads turned its back on politics. The company said it won’t proactively insert political content into Threads’ In-Feed Recommendations or recommend it across various surfaces on Instagram.

But even though Threads wanted to avoid politics in favor of creator content, its users did not.

Even after the policy change, political content regularly dominated Threads’ trends. When President Biden gave his State of the Union address in March, for example, terms referencing the address itself, the heckling, and the Republican response were trending. Today, the network is aglow with discussions related to the Trump verdict, as you’d expect on any real-time social platform.

Easier to follow news in real time

With Threads’ previous user interface, following different topics, threads, and discussions was far more difficult — and critically, didn’t feel real time. Moving between the For You and Following feeds required you to click back and forth. There was no easy way to track an area of interest in an ongoing fashion. This changes with Threads’ column-based alternative layout, which users have affectionately dubbed “ThreadsDeck.”

Image Credits: Screenshot from Threads

Now you can pin the For You and Following feeds side by side, as well as your Liked, Saved, Profile, Activity, or a Search feed that highlights the top trends. Most importantly, you can search for any topic you’d like to track — “Trump,” for instance — and add it as a separate column, too.

What’s more, any column outside the For You feed can be toggled to allow for automatic updates, like TweetDeck. Even better, it’s not a subscriber-only feature, like X Pro.

This change goes a long way to making Threads look, feel, and work more like Twitter/X, regardless of whatever corporate ban Meta has implemented around political content.

The ban is confusing users, who don’t understand how Meta will decide what content to block. Will a photo of Taylor Swift not be recommended if she’s holding “Biden-Harris” cookies? one user recently wondered when posting a test of the algorithm.

Mosseri tried to clarify that the company’s work around politics happens “primarily at the account level, not the post level.” He also tried to explain again that Threads was not “anti-news“; it just wouldn’t “amplify political news.”

“News about sports, music, fashion, culture is something we’re actively pursuing. Political news is the topic [we] are looking to be more careful,” he said in one reply.

In every instance where he brings this up, users’ replies fill the thread, expressing their disagreement with Meta’s position.

Some of those takes were more nuanced than others.

“There’s simply no way a viable, real-time social media platform can get away without being, in part, a news platform,” chided tech journalist Lance Ulanoff. “Lean into it and figure out how to support it all in a way that avoids the mistakes of everyone left in your wake.”

Another simply shouted, “GIVE US NEWS!”

At least now users no longer have to wait for Meta to change its mind — they can personalize the app to cater to their demand for real-time, automatically updated information on various topics, including politics.

If Threads succeeds in supplanting X as a news platform, it will be despite its misguided policies around political content, not because of them. And because it finally gave users the tools — via “ThreadsDeck” — to build the app they wanted for themselves.

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