Threads - will we never learn

Produced by DALL-E

“Things change so fast, you can’t use 1971 ethics on someone born in 1971.” Grace Slick

Social networks are unethical (mostly)

There’s a lot of hand-wringing going on in charities and non-profits at the moment about the “ethics of generative AI”. It’s totally reasonable but I feel the need to point out that social networks, upon which many charities depend, are (with maybe one exception) totally unethical.

My kids aren’t allowed to use social networks. They’re finally resigned to it. Having worked in the digital industry since before social networks existed, I know exactly what happens to user data. The research is comprehensive and conclusive.

Privacy Violations

Many social networks have been criticised for not adequately protecting user data, leading to instances of data breaches and unauthorised data sharing. This violates the ethical principle of respect for privacy.

Mental Health Effects

There’s increasing evidence that prolonged use of social media can negatively affect mental health, including increasing feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness, especially among young people.

Misinformation Spread

Social networks can rapidly spread misinformation or “fake news,” causing confusion, panic, or harm. They often struggle to manage this effectively.

Promotion of Unrealistic Standards

Social media can promote unrealistic expectations of beauty, success, and happiness, leading to negative self-perceptions and self-esteem issues among users.


The design of many social networks encourages constant use, which can lead to addiction. This is ethically questionable because it exploits human vulnerabilities for profit.


So, please don’t get excited by Meta’s new Twitter competitor Threads. It’s the same old unethical, exploitative BS wrapped up in a new skin.

What I recommend

There is a ray of light with Threads, though: it uses ActivityPub. That’s the open, decentralised social networking protocol that the Fediverse is based on. That means, in time, we may see interoperability between Threads and the wider, non-commercial, more ethical federated services enjoying a growth spurt, like Mastodon etc.

If I was a digital trustee, I’d be recommending that charities create a presence in the Fediverse for digital social networking, and slowly migrate off the unethical, commercial ventures like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Threads.

There are many ways to do it. You don’t need to have a charity account on a server controlled by others. It’s not that difficult to create your own, so you have full control. Detailed guide here.

But what about reach?

Good question. That’s why most organisations are on the commercial social networks in the first place, right?

It’s up to you, but you can’t truly be ethical if you support these exploitative commercial networks.

Threads - will we never learn
Older post

The age of synthetic computing

What sets Synthetic Computing apart is its ability to understand context and establish connections across domains.

Newer post

It's not game-changing if the game doesn't change

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Threads - will we never learn