I'm Daniel, founder of Thread.
I started Thread two months ago because I believe current social media and social networks are built in a way that harms our ability to meaningfully connect with one another. They're highly addictive, superficial, and socially isolating. They also run a reputation of violating user privacy and selling it to third parties.
I strongly believe in ad-free, private social networking as an alternative. It's all about building and maintaining relationships with the people closest to you. If this sounds interesting, please try out the app! It's still very early, beta software.
On pricing: I think advertising is out of the question. It's a strong misalignment of incentives in trying to deliver long term value for end users. I have some ideas here, but the most obvious thing that comes to mind is a subscription based service (say ~$10/year).
I would love to hear your feedback (questions, comments, suggestions) on what I'm building.
Reach out to me personally at email@example.com.
We may disclose personal information to:
third parties, including agents or sub-contractors, who assist us in providing information, products, services or direct marketing to you.
There's no marketing in iMessage, certainly not based on the things I type into iMessage.
Also, to be clear, "marketing" is advertising. You say "ad-free" but then you give yourself the right to advertise.
There's also nothing I can find about end-to-end encryption, which is one of the best features of iMessage. I almost exclusively use iMessage because I know Apple isn't spying on me. When friends message me on Instagram, I reply in iMessage.
This is great feedback. My interpretation of the clause is that we can use services like Mailchimp to send you marketing materials for when we release new products and features. These would be strictly opt-in.
I'm not a legal expert, but I will try to come up with a policy that more clearly expresses that you will NOT receive marketing about third-party services and our only usage of these services would be to update you all on our new product offerings.
We're considering offering E2E encryption, but we believe that we can deliver a ton of value by allowing users to search through their messages and for us to efficiently organize and categorize your content. I think there is a middle ground where we can encrypt non-pertinent data, but still preserve metadata so we can provide some intelligence on top of the content you choose to share on the platform.
You do not need to be a legal expert to state this in your policy in plain language.
"We will collect your contact information for the purpose of updating you about this product."
"We will not collect analytic data."
"If this policy changes, you will be notified 60 days before data collection begins."
You do not need to predicate openness and honesty on legal expertise.
It now reads: "We may disclose personal information to:
third parties, including agents or sub-contractors, who assist us in sending direct marketing about our new products and features"
This alone will be enough of a deal breaker for privacy nuts, such as myself. If I'm going to use your service, you just champion privacy. This means no marketing gimmicks.
Sorry. For me this comes no way close to being an iMessage alternative. Even if you become a privacy champion, you still need to expect us to trust your servers, which is a tricky thing without end to end encryption.
Maybe an alternate model is to get funding from big corporate sponsorship and have a distributed network that could be hosted on our own droplets (using open source, of course). You can then have a paid hosted saas for those not technically ready to self host. Until there's a solution out there that does just that, I'm very unlikely to bite.
I imagine Thread as a company that focuses more on delivering products that allow people to build more meaningful relationships and connections in a way that benefits their long term mental/social health. I believe we can do that in a way that delivers an 80/20 on privacy too, by not using targeted advertising, and having 0 incentives to sell your data.
If you're not willing to trust our servers, I don't think the product is right for you. Hopefully we build trust as a company that does right by our users in the long run, unlike what I'm seeing from companies today.
Even if you have good intentions and don't sell them the information, what's the guarantee that these third parties won't use the information you provided them for personal gain anyway?
1. We'll be transparent about the services that we use. That way you'll know who your data is being shared to, and what data will be shared.
2. We'll try to take an Apple-like approach of anonymizing data as much as possible and only sharing the few pieces of information we need to deliver a better product.
I'm sorry there's no fool-proof way to guarantee perfect data privacy - at some point you'll have to trust us to do the right thing with your data. We hope that our incentives will . be aligned. Our service is predicated on keeping your information private and that's what you'll be paying for.
Why must you organize the data? I’d like to be able to perform searches client-side, just like iMessage.
1. I like being able to search through old archives and interactions that might have happened a long time ago. I believe there's value in preserving history and being able to easily look back on it.
2. We can provide value by doing basic message parsing. Right now, if your message includes a Youtube link or Spotify URL we'll give you a player to view that content in-line. If your message has a Yelp link, we'll pull the restaurant details such as where it is, how expensive it is, etc...
Our mission is to provide the best service to allow people to build meaningful, long-term relationships, because _that_ is a need that's not being addressed. A lot of the features we want to offer will require some centralized processing. If you want a purely anonymized, E2E encrypted service, I would recommend Signal or Telegram.
I registered but I don't know anyone that has it so I have to convince people to set it up. Maybe allow public groups? Or maybe not.
Looks rather cool!
I'm trying it on Android. Not sure how I can convince friends to try this out though, have a hard time getting people to use Signal. How's this compare to iMessage in regards to encryption btw? I know encryption isn't entirely trivial to cover this early on.
Edit: Also when I click "Contacts" and I deny permission on Android it crashes the app. Might want to handle that case.
and maybe less easy to develop features like animated stickers
I recently quit my full time job as a software engineer because I really believe this problem requires my full engagement and devotion!
iMessage doesn't have ads (and honestly i cannot see it ever changing), but it does have one hell of an ecosystem. Why is yours better?
How do you propose to enter a very crowded space and get enough users to pay you keep the lights on when every alternative is free?
If you're actually a WhatsApp alternative instead of an iMessage alternative, why are you better than Signal? It's free, and they're a nonprofit with a warchest and really, truly no incentive to keep any metadata about you at all.
2. We plan to offer a very different kind of product than "simple secure messaging" (WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram). We want to truly capture meaningful, social interactions beyond just quick messages. I want to build a service that better ties in event planning, payment splitting, and location sharing into your groups. An experience like Google photos where you can build shared albums in your groups. One where sharing music and videos feels natural and you can have "shared" experiences. We plan to integrate with a ton of third parties to offer intelligence on top of your messages (restaurant ratings, flight tracking, etc).
3. We want to build a better platform on top of messaging. Plugins and bots are pretty useless right now. We think we can offer apps and services that live in your conversations in really meaningful ways. It will be strictly opt-in, so users are choosing which services they want to integrate with.
We're starting with messaging because that's the starting point for meaningful group interactions, but I don't see anyone else in the space filling the gap for the things I mentioned.
You need to be real careful about how you do this, and be mindful of this not becoming a privacy leaking side channel
I see adoption as a biggest problem. I personally tried to migrate to Telegram and failed to convince even my own wife to give it a try, since imessages work for her and all her friends are there and why bother.
My friends/coworkers aren't just going to jump onto another app just for a cooler feature. We use Messenger and everything is just fine. If we need to we can use Venmo/Calendar invite and that's it.
There isn't an API, data export, or a way to spin up my own Thread server. Thread is a walled garden.
Additionally, I can't find a way to delete my account.
I don't believe average users gain much from federated, distributed, decentralized services (after you factor in the cost and limitations of such systems), but we'll consider it if there's a lot of demand.
There's a long road ahead of building trust with users, but I think if we're intentional about being the most open, transparent social networking company, we can build that trust with our actions and track record.
You're going to be outstripped in sheer features here to say nothing of stickers, round videos, the upcoming transaction layer in the TON, bots for pretty much everything, so on and so forth.
Social media is just a name for "broadcast widely", which has never been my interest. Messengers are that smaller scale.
What I'm imagining, for the types of things that I like to do with friends and family, is more oriented around long term social interactions. This means being able to plan and view events, view and split payments, and build a persistent group album -- to start. When I'm sharing videos, music, or recommendations, I don't want it to get lost as soon as it reaches the top of the screen.
This is where messaging falls short and I believe it can be supplemented by a lot of the features of traditional social networks.
I don't remember the name, but I think it had a number in it.
2. It's a unique identifier that allows you to add your existing contacts more easily. It's much more convenient than trying to figure out the usernames of all your friends and family.
3. It's harder to automate creation of users by requiring a valid phone number, versus usernames (and potentially even email).
Furries aren't going to touch your service without stickers and they seem to be running the internet these days.