Can Threads Take Down Twitter?

The opening page of the Threads app on an iphone

In the ongoing battle for social media dominance, the clash between Meta’s new text-based platform Threads versus Elon Musk’s Twitter is already one for the record books.

Threads reached 100 million users in less than a week since its debut, making it the fastest-growing app in history and giving Twitter some serious competition.

“What’s scary for Twitter is that Threads has a built-in ability to grow their network quickly,” says Rich Hanna, professor of practice in marketing at Babson College. Meta, which includes Facebook and Instagram, already has billions of built-in users, making it easy for those accounts to quickly sign up to Threads.

“Having less friction when it comes to moving your entire network to another social platform is key,” Hanna says.

Musk already has threatened to sue Meta amid the new app’s meteoric rise, saying that Threads uses Twitter’s trade secrets and poached its employees. Meanwhile, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been doing a social media victory lap, claiming the launch went “way beyond our expectations.”

Both Threads and Twitter offer a space where users share short snippets of text and also can post photos and videos. To sign onto Threads, users must have an Instagram account, a platform that has 2.5 billion users.

That ease of access is the key difference between Threads and other text-focused platforms, such as Mastodon and Bluesky, that also have sought to replace Twitter. Competitors have grown since Musk purchased Twitter in October, taking it private to increase subscription revenue and cut costs.

Making It Their Own

Threads launched last week, shortly after Musk limited the number of posts users can read per day, and sharply restricted access to users without a Twitter account.

Rich Hanna
Rich Hanna, professor of practice in marketing at Babson College

“I think, in some ways, Meta was taking advantage of some bad press for Twitter and launched the app quickly,” Hanna says.

Musk already has made it clear that Threads looms large amid Twitter’s competitors.

“The very fact that Musk is threatening to sue Meta, and not suing Mastodon or any of the others, is the telltale sign that they know something is up,” Hanna says.

And, while time will tell whether the app has staying power, Meta has included one clause that might help with retention. If subscribers decide to close their Threads account, they’ll also have to shutter their Instagram account.

But, social media lovers shouldn’t be surprised by Threads, Hanna says. Facebook and Instagram are continually incorporating new features as other platforms, such as Snapchat and TikTok, gain popularity.

“It’s another example of Meta copying something that’s working well somewhere else and making it their own,” Hanna says.

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