Mark Zuckerberg needs no introduction. As the founder of Facebook, he created a world within the internet. The world, which he likes to call “metaverse” is mirrored by its parent company Meta Inc. The newest addition to this “metaverse” is Threads. Threads is a social media platform, originally intended to be an extension of Instagram. While it is closely connected to Instagram, Threads focuses on micro-blogging, limited to 500 words. This brings it into competition with another billionaire-run social media platform – Twitter.
Threads and Twitter
Threads was launched on July 5, 2023, and it created instant hype. Within 24 hours, 30 million people signed up for Threads and over 95 million posts were shared. The app surpassed the 100 million signup threshold within just 5 days. However, the initial hype subsided quickly, and it took another week to amass 50 million more signups. Ultimately, Threads gained 150 million users in just 2 weeks. Yet the app experienced a drop of more than 25% in daily active users within just a few days. The usage time also dropped by more than half, from about 20 minutes on the first few days to around 8 minutes within a week. Even though it seems turbulent, these ups and downs are normal for a new app, as people like to explore. Currently, around 23.6 Million people are using it actively.
Just as Threads was launched, people started comparing it with Twitter. As a text-focused social media platform, the similarity is there. One can share photos, GIFs, and videos on both platforms, but the focus is always on text. The limit is where they differ. Twitter has a character limit of 280, whereas in Threads the limit is 500. Similarly, the videos shared on Twitter are limited to 512MB and up to 2 minutes and 20 seconds while Threads is more lenient and sets the limit at 5 Minutes. Also, unlike Twitter, hashtags are not important in Threads. Contents of the news feed also differ. According to Instagram CEO, Mr. Mosseri, threads will show less political and hard news in the feed.
The Twitter turmoil
Twitter has been the center of attention since Elon Musk acquired it for 44 billion USD last year. Since his acquisition, controversy has surrounded Twitter. Just after his acquisition, Mr. Musk reduced the workforce to nearly a quarter – from 7,500 employees to around 2,000 employees. There were also some changes regarding the long-standing “blue tick” policy. Previously, only distinguished individuals got the blue tick of verification. But now the blue tick is not exclusive to celebrities anymore. Anyone willing to pay a monthly amount can have a blue tick now, which infuriated the loyal, long-standing Twitter users. And most recently, the decision to rebrand Twitter to “X” has taken over the internet. As a part of the rebranding, he decided to discard the blue bird logo, which has become synonymous since its commencement in 2008. He also renamed Twitter Inc. to X Corp. His obsession with the letter X roots back to his first early payment processing company “x.com”, which has turned into PayPal now. The billionaire bought Twitter under the name of X Holdings, which, by now has become X Corp.
According to Elon Musk himself, Twitter has lost approximately 50% of its advertising revenues since he took over. Experts believe that it is the result of ongoing controversies around Twitter and Mr. Musk, along with the new Twitter policies regarding hate speech, misinformation, and extremism. These uncertainties could be the reason for serious doubts in the minds of both users and advertisers, resulting in reduced ad revenues. This reduction in revenue may have led Mr. Musk to make such a risky move. Rebranding a renowned 15-year-old brand could prove to be a significant gamble, even for a multi-billionaire like Elon Musk. He wants to turn Twitter into an “everything” app, facilitating communication, shopping, entertainment consumption, and more.
X marks the spot for legal challenges
Twitter, or as Mr. Musk envisioned – “X” is still very far from fulfilling the billionaires’ vision, an app where you can order groceries and book your yoga classes to pay bills and chat with friends. To make matters worse, there are reports that Meta holds the trademark for an “X” logo for online social networking services. Microsoft also has an “X” registered for use in similar software and social media spaces. It is estimated that there are nearly 900 active U.S. trademark registrations that already cover the letter X in a wide range of industries. The chance of getting sued by any of these 900 trademark-holding companies is huge. Although not certain, it remains a real probability. Twitter’s competitor, Meta faced similar lawsuits when it changed its name from Facebook Inc. to Meta.
Threads: The better Twitter?
As it seems, Threads is positioning itself as a direct replacement for Twitter; offering similar experiences without the controversies. However, it remains to be seen whether the platform will be able to capitalize on the turmoil at Twitter and push them out of the picture. There are a few factors that could affect Threads’ success: user engagement and the availability of features. Users may not continue using the platform if they don’t feel engaged. Also, if Threads does not have the features that users want, they are less likely to switch to the app and remain users. However, Threads is heading in the right direction as they are introducing new features in regular updates. Only time will tell if they can keep growing. If it happens, we’ll be lucky to watch the rise of a new tech giant.