The hype surrounding Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has died down in recent months. After the world’s wealthiest billionaire purchased Twitter for $44 billion, the company went through major changes. This not only included letting thousands of Twitter employees go, but also involved disruptive changes to the platform itself. In the process, many social media startups have attempted to fill the void that these changes created. But, as it turns out, it might just be Mark Zuckerberg who accomplishes this feat in the end. Specifically, Meta’s launch of Threads in recent days poses the most formidable threat to Twitter yet. And millions are weighing in on Threads versus Twitter apps in terms of which is best.
Naturally, Musk has not taken Meta’s launch of Threads lightly. In fact, his attorney has sent Zuckerberg a letter of intent to sue should Meta persist in its efforts. In all likelihood, however, Musk’s claims aren’t going to deter Meta’s efforts. Instead, it might well be Meta’s dominance of multiple social media sites that eventually gets them into trouble. The more Meta copies other popular social media enterprises, the broader its reach extends. And it is precisely this that could force investigations into Meta’s position of monopoly. When it comes to Threads versus Twitter apps, it might be that Threads is the worser of two evils.
“But [Meta has] this additional market power now, they have a huge pool of very important information for themselves. If they upsell even a tiny bit, they are looking at incremental revenue, eventually.” – Roger Kay, Analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates
Threads’ Approach to Text-Based Social Media
In comparing the Threads versus Twitter apps, both are similar in a variety of ways. Notably, both are text-based social media sites that promote micro-blogging among users. This approach contrasts with image and video-focused sites like TikTok, Snapchat, and others. As such, it tends to encourage user opinions and points of view to a greater extent through direct commentary. This has been the recipe that catapulted Twitter to fame originally. So naturally, Meta’s launch of Threads hopes to perpetuate the same kind of success. Plus, Threads’ algorithm recommends posts from accounts that users actually follow. This approach, as you would expect, encourages interactions among desirable accounts rather than simply random ones. Twitter, of course, does the same.
While these similarities are important for Threads versus Twitter apps, this is where comparisons diverge. Meta has stated that Threads will not pursue the promotion of news and political commentaries. This differs from Twitter which tends to be heavily saturated with media and political personalities. Threads also does not have a trending topics tab, a direct message feature, or hashtags. These may come later, but the initially, Meta’s launch of Threads lacks these Twitter-like aspects. This is why Musk’s claims that Meta misappropriated Twitter’s trade secrets will unlikely be respected. While Threads operates very much like Twitter in many ways, it’s hardly a mirror image of the site.
“Instagram has the audience and has the creators. Overnight, it was able to onboard a bunch of people who have an incentive to now create content on Threads because they have a following on Instagram…” – Alexis Ohanian, Cofounder of Reddit
Leveraging Social Media Power for Success
The most impressive aspect of Meta’s launch of Threads is by far its ability to recruit millions of users immediately. Within two days, Threads already enjoyed over 70 million users, and a few days later, surpassed 100 million accounts. This is noteworthy since Twitter competitor sites Mastodon and Bluesky have roughly a million user after many months. How was Meta able to achieve such success so quickly? Easy. Those who signed up for Threads were able to retain their existing Instagram followers on the new text-based social site. They also could transfer their verification status to Threads as well. Given that verification has been a recent issue for Twitter, it’s not surprising that a Threads versus Twitter apps comparison favored Threads.
The existing user base that Meta enjoys through Instagram as well as through Facebook and What’s App certainly offers advantage. This is something Mastodon and Bluesky do not have, which explains why their difficulty competing with Twitter. Because users to a non-Twitter social media site do not have to start from scratch, signing up is more appealing. Definitely, Meta’s launch of Threads was highly successful because Twitter users have been frustrated. But more importantly, people chose Threads versus Twitter apps because of the interconnectivity Meta’s sites offer. This is especially true for social media influencers who have attracted large followings on Instagram and Facebook. And at the same time, it highlights the concerns many have about Meta’s growing dominance in social media.
“[Meta has} this pattern now of either launching or creating spin-off social media networks based on what’s most popular at the time, then do it under their brand.” – Alejandra Caraballo, Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic
Imitator, Monopolist, or Both?
Facebook rose to popularity as a result of organic growth and user fondness with the social media site. But since its original rise to power, Facebook (and now Meta) has adopted a more copycat style of competition. It purchased What’s App in an effort to improve its standings in direct messaging. It then created Facebook Stories as a response to Snapchat. And most recently, it created Reels to counter TikTok’s short-form videos. It’s therefore not surprising that Zuckerberg is using a similar approach with Meta’s launch of Threads. In order to win the Threads versus Twitter apps battle, all it must do is recreate a similar platform. By developing it as its own brand, and with a powerful base of existing users, success is almost guaranteed.
While this technique has proven successful for many businesses, including Apple, it’s hardly one that invites fair competition. Because Meta already dominates the social media sphere, they enjoy an unfair advantage when it comes to any new social media venture. Meta’s launch of Threads thus represents just another move to gain increasing dominance in this sector. Musk knows it, which is why he is challenging the Threads versus Twitter apps options. He might even take the battle into the jiu-jitsu arena to settle the issue. But most likely, it will be government oversight that will eventually challenge Meta over its expanding social media power. Threads might sound like a great alternative to many because of recent changes at Twitter. But long-term, giving Meta such control over vast user data and information could be extremely dangerous.