In the ongoing rivalry between Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta and Elon Musk’s Twitter, Zuckerberg dealt another blow by launching Threads, a companion service to Instagram, which poses a challenge to Twitter.
With over 5 million sign-ups in its first four hours, Threads aims to offer short text posts, similar to Twitter, with the ability to like, re-post, and reply, but without direct messaging capabilities. As Meta’s stock surged, analysts speculated that Threads’ integration with Instagram could attract users and advertising revenue, potentially impacting Twitter’s struggling business.
Threads, a standalone app, allows users to log in using their Instagram credentials, providing a seamless transition for Instagram’s vast user base of over 2 billion monthly active users. This integration with Instagram gives Meta an advantage in potentially capturing Twitter’s market share. Investors have expressed excitement over the possibility of Meta delivering a “Twitter-Killer” and causing further disruption to Twitter’s already tumultuous state.
Meta’s timing couldn’t be better as Elon Musk’s decisions have caused turmoil within Twitter. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion has resulted in a decline in its value, with advertisers leaving amid controversies surrounding content moderation and layoffs. In contrast, Zuckerberg addressed these challenges in Threads’ posts, emphasizing the need for a platform with over a billion users for public conversations. While Twitter has had the opportunity to achieve this, it has yet to succeed, and Zuckerberg hopes that Threads will fill that gap.
The integration of Threads with Instagram prioritizes privacy considerations. Users who sign up for Threads have the option to display a badge on their Instagram profile but can choose to hide it. Different privacy settings for each app further empower users to control their experience. Notable brands, including Billboard, HBO, NPR, and Netflix, as well as celebrities such as Shakira and former Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg, quickly established accounts on Threads. Notably, the app did not display any ads during a Reuters review.
To bolster Threads’ success, Meta has reached out to social media influencers, encouraging them to post at least twice a day on the new app. Influential figures expressed gratitude for early access in their initial posts. While other platforms like Mastodon, Post, Truth Social, and T2 have attempted to lure Twitter users away, they remain relatively small. Meta has faced challenges in launching standalone apps in the past, such as the unsuccessful Lasso app, but its incorporation of features like Reels into Instagram has been more successful.
One potential hurdle for Threads is the contrasting culture between Twitter’s news-oriented platform and Instagram’s visual focus. Meta has been shifting away from news and political content on its platforms, instead recommending lighter content through Reels videos. However, Meta only needs to attract a fraction of Instagram’s user base to rival Twitter’s size, which may not require converting dedicated Twitter users.
Responding to predictions about Twitter’s demise shortly after Threads’ launch, Zuckerberg cautioned that it is still early in the competition. The battle between Meta and Twitter is just beginning, and the success of Threads will unfold in the coming rounds.