Threads Vs Twitter
Algorithmic Yawn: Threads failed to capture user attention and capitalise on Twitter's failings Image Credit: Threads | Twitter | Gulf News

When Mark Zuckerberg decided to launch Threads last month, a seemingly cleaner, more positive alternative to Twitter, there was much excitement. Could this be the social media app that finally kills the blue bird, I and many others began to ask? A few weeks later, “not quite” is the answer.

Twitter has since been renamed X by its billionaire owner Elon Musk, the blue bird is gone but not because Threads killed it. But because Twitter has been completely rebranded. While that may not be doing wonders for the social media platform’s already troubled bottom line, Threads has in fact turned out to be a crashing bore.

When the app was first launched it seemed like a fantastic idea — Meta merging its powerful Instagram platform with a Twitter like experience to give people an alternative to the toxic world of Twitter. So within the first five days, more than 100 million people registered for Threads.

It helped that there were over a billion Instagram users who could seamlessly set up their accounts and import their followers. But the algorithm is a yawn. The posts that pop up on the timeline do nothing to grab my attention. Engagement on the app is negligible. Its almost like everyone on Threads is asleep. Like me.

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No serious content

The last time I posted something on Threads was three weeks ago. According to one report, after the initial euphoria, Threads is facing a drop in daily usage by almost 50 to 70 per cent.

The vision for Threads was made clear by its boss, Adam Mosseri who has stated that the algorithms won’t promote serious or political content.

“We are definitely focusing on kindness and making this a friendly place,” he has said on his Threads account, adding that “the goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter.”

Clearly concerned by the drop in interest however there are reports that Meta plans to introduce more Twitter like features to Threads to attract more users.

Meanwhile the disaster that is Twitter (now named X) continues to run itself into the ground. Revenues are down by over 50 per cent since Elon Musk bought the platform last October and this is by his own admission. Thousands of staff have been laid off, so from more than 7,000 people who once worked there, it is now believed to be just around 1300 people.

According to Cloudfare, an internet services company, Twitter or X’s user traffic has been declining since the beginning of the year. Musk has made the X experience so much more painful and chaotic — from the paid blue ticks (it is simply embarrassing to have a blue tick now, some of us have been given one based on our follower counts, not because we had a choice) to limiting the number of posts a day that unverified users can see. And then there is the dog’s breakfast of a timeline called “for you” where random posts pop up from people you never followed or wanted to follow.

The Threads app, operated by Meta Platforms Inc., on a smartphone, besides an Instagram Inc. logo, arranged in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday, July 5, 2023. Threads is a “text-based conversation app” that’s widely seen as an alternative to Twitter. Image Credit: Paul Hanna/Bloomberg

Sticking it out

Will this rebranding exercise help Musk? The jury is out. Many companies have tried the rebranding route before. Zuckerberg did it with Facebook by renaming it Meta. But did it change the way people looked at Facebook and what it stood for?

So Twitter may have been renamed X but what is actually different about it? It’s the same Twitter in a new avatar. Many brand experts believe Musk will have to do much more than renaming Twitter to actually change its fortunes.

So for consumers like you and me, there really isn’t any one social media platform we can rely on and be comfortable with at the moment. I have friends who have already deleted their Threads accounts. I am willing to stick it out for a bit longer to see where it goes.

Twitter or X is frankly the most toxic space online but it remains the quickest way to disseminate your message and to pick up news updates for journalists like me. Until then I highly recommend watching reels of golden retrievers on Instagram. There’s simply nothing more delightful.