Threads app,
Threads, Meta's new platform that aims to take on Twitter, saw 10 million sign ups within just seven hours of launch today Image Credit: Bloomberg

The battle for dominance in the social media landscape has entered a critical stage as Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, launches its new app Threads, aiming to rival Twitter.

With Threads, Meta is tapping into the dissatisfaction among Twitter users regarding recent changes to the platform, offering an alternative that combines the best of Instagram’s features with the format of Twitter.

The launch of Threads has already garnered significant attention, with five million sign-ups within the first four hours. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief of Meta, envisions Threads as a public conversations app with over a billion users, surpassing Twitter’s reach.

This ambition is fuelled by Twitter’s failure to fully capitalise on its potential to create a massive public conversations platform. However, it remains to be seen whether Threads can truly challenge and potentially overthrow Twitter’s dominant position.

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Leveraging Instagram’s user base

One advantage Threads holds over its competitors is its integration with Instagram, which boasts hundreds of millions of users. By leveraging Instagram’s existing user base, Threads can quickly gain traction and attract a significant number of users.

The app allows seamless sharing of posts between Threads and Instagram, expanding the reach of conversations beyond the confines of a single platform. This integration, coupled with the absence of ads and the inclusion of features such as customisable profiles and content control, positions Threads as an appealing alternative for those seeking a different social media experience.

While Threads shares similarities with Twitter, such as the ability to post up to 500 characters and follow accounts, it also introduces unique features that cater to the preferences of users.

The app’s emphasis on public conversations and the ability to filter out replies containing specific words provide a more tailored and focused experience. Furthermore, Meta’s commitment to privacy, despite its controversial past, is a crucial aspect that resonates with users concerned about data security.

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Responding to a question on whether Threads can become bigger than Twitter, Zuckerberg said, "It'll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn't nailed it. Hopefully we will."

Musk’s erratic behaviour

Twitter, on the other hand, has been grappling with its own challenges. Recent changes implemented by Twitter CEO Elon Musk, such as restricting the number of tweets users can see per day and moving TweetDeck behind a paywall, have caused frustration among its user base.

Musk’s erratic behaviour and political views have also alienated some users. This dissatisfaction, combined with the introduction of Threads, could lead to an exodus of disenchanted Twitter users seeking a more stable and user-friendly social media platform.

However, it would be premature to dismiss the established strength of Twitter. The platform has a long history and a vibrant community, with strong network effects that have proven difficult for competitors to replicate. Meta recognises this and acknowledges the challenges it faces in dethroning Twitter.

While the launch of Threads is a significant move, it will require sustained effort and innovation to truly pose a threat to Twitter’s dominance.

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Evolution of social media platforms

Regulatory concerns, particularly in the European Union, have also hampered the immediate expansion of Threads. The EU’s Digital Markets Act presents obstacles to Meta’s data-sharing practices between Threads and Instagram, necessitating careful compliance measures.

Once these concerns are addressed, Meta can tap into the vast European market and further expand Threads’ user base.

The battle between Threads and Twitter has just begun but this is a seminal fight. To my mind it represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of social media platforms. The success of Threads will depend on its ability to attract and retain users, provide a compelling and differentiated experience, and navigate the complex regulatory landscape.

While the app shows initial promise, it is perhaps a tad premature to declare the death of Twitter. Only time will tell whether Threads can truly emerge as a formidable contender in the realm of public conversations and be the world’s new town hall. For now the jury is out on Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of a billion-user platform.