As Twitter faces an ongoing crisis of its own making, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is seizing the opportunity to strike. Meta has officially launched its app called Threads, which directly competes with Twitter by offering real-time online conversations. Within just seven hours of its launch, Threads garnered an impressive 10 million sign-ups, as confirmed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his verified Threads account.
Threads closely resemble Twitter, both in terms of its layout and product description. The app emphasizes its potential for building a following and connecting like-minded individuals. Zuckerberg expressed his vision for Threads, stating, “We hope to take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas, and discussing what’s on your mind.”
While Twitter has encountered various challenges and uncertainties, Threads enters the scene alongside other Twitter alternatives such as the decentralized social network Mastodon, which experienced a surge in sign-ups over the weekend, and Bluesky, backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, which temporarily paused new sign-ups due to overwhelming interest.
However, Meta holds a distinct advantage over Threads. The company possesses significant resources and an extensive user base through its ownership of Facebook and Instagram, which allows for effective cross-promotion of the new app.
Meta’s previous attempts to challenge rivals have yielded mixed results. For instance, Instagram’s Stories feature, inspired by Snapchat, quickly gained popularity and surpassed its competitor. Yet, standalone apps like Poke, Slingshot, and Lifestage struggled to gain traction and failed to generate significant consumer demand.
Threads emerge at a time when Twitter has been engaging in multiple acts of self-sabotage, driving its user base away and leaving room for potential competitors to thrive. Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, seems to recognize the unique threat posed by Meta. Musk’s tweets following the Threads launch contained barbs directed at Meta, igniting a potential rivalry between himself and Zuckerberg.
Twitter’s recent troubles have included deliberately throttling users’ ability to view tweets, claiming it was a temporary measure to combat automated bots and AI companies using Twitter data. This move, among others, has made it easier for users to seek alternatives. The platform’s current crisis has weakened its position and set the stage for competing platforms to gain traction.
Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter has faced numerous challenges, including layoffs, system outages, and the controversial rollout of a new verification system. Investors have repeatedly devalued Twitter since Musk’s acquisition.
In an unexpected move, Twitter made tweets inaccessible to non-logged-in users, significantly reducing content reach. Musk attributed this change to a temporary emergency response against data scraping. However, Twitter faced backlash and swiftly increased the limits on tweet consumption after initially imposing restrictive measures.
Moreover, Twitter announced that users would soon have to pay for the previously free TweetDeck tool, a popular app among professional users. This change sparked further discontent and dissatisfaction.
Twitter’s recent decisions have lowered users’ switching costs, making it more convenient and appealing to explore alternative platforms. As Twitter users leave the platform, its rivals benefit from increased network effects.
Though Twitter claims that its changes are temporary, the damage has already been done. Mastodon reported a significant rise in active users, while Bluesky experienced system slowdowns due to high traffic and an influx of new users.
With the launch of Threads, Meta is poised to capitalize on Twitter’s turmoil and attract users seeking alternatives. By seizing this opportunity, Meta aims to establish a foothold in the real-time conversation space, directly challenging Twitter’s dominance.