We have been using Threads, Meta’s answer to Twitter, for a few days now. And while these are very early days, we are seeing enough to suggest that this could perhaps be the biggest threat that Twitter might have faced in its 17-year existence (it started in 2006).

threads vs twitter

The micro-blogging network has faced some very high-profile challenges in the past, most notably from the likes of Google (remember Google Plus?), but this time, the threat seems very significant and real. Meta claims that over 70 million people have already signed up for the new social network, that’s a fifth of Twitter’s estimated user base of 350 million, as per Statista.

Easy to get: Got Insta? You got Threads!

So what has Threads going for it that other Twitter killers did not? Well, actually, a fair bit. For starters, it comes as a part of an already very popular social network, Instagram. That can make a huge difference because it makes signing up for the platform and finding folks to follow almost seamless. There are no forms to fill, no scouring to see who’s worth following – everyone you follow and who is following you on Instagram can choose to do so on Threads also. This is a massive deal for the simple reason that it circumvents the challenge most new social networks face – that of moving your friends, followers, and followers to the new network.

The fact that Threads comes from an established social network that’s already doing very well (Instagram is pretty much one of the most happening social networks right now) only makes it more effective – you are actually following people you already follow on another social network, so are aware of them and the kind of content they post. That is actually the biggest reason why Threads has in a few days the number of users it took Twitter almost four years to get – Twitter had to start from scratch, but Threads did not. And unlike in the case of the (ill-fated?) Metaverse, users did not have to invest in additional hardware to use the new service.

Easy to use: Used Twitter? You can use Threads!

Then there is the matter of simplicity and sheer ease of use. Elon Musk has seemingly accused Meta of cheating and of copying Twitter’s interface, allegedly through former Twitter staff (many of whom were sacked by Musk, to be fair). While that issue has to be sorted out legally, the fact is that Threads is very similar in appearance and interface to Twitter. This means there is literally no learning curve for anyone who has used Twitter to get the hang of the new social network. In contrast, there are folks (including us) who are still wondering how a competing social network called Mastodon works! Anyone who has used Twitter can hit the ground running on Threads. It has a very similar system of posting, lining up posts, commenting on posts, reposting, and so on. And let’s face it, those most attracted to Threads are going to be Twitter users, which brings us to the matter of timing.

Perfect timing: Restricted on Twitter? Hooray, here’s Threads!


Meta’s biggest masterstroke, however, has been in terms of the timing of the launch of Threads. Twitter has been under fire for a while with allegations of misinformation, trolling, abuse, and fake accounts. So much so that there have been worldwide predictions of a slowdown in Twitter – Statista had said that the network’s number of users would drop to 335 million by 2024, a dip of almost five percent, and many notable users (Stephen Fry, Toni Braxton, Trent Reznor, etc.) had publicly given up their Twitter accounts, citing disappointment and disillusionment with the network.

Related Read: 8 Things Meta’s Threads Needs to Do to Compete With Twitter

Adding fire to this fuel of disappointment has been a series of rather odd decisions from Twitter’s new owner. Elon Musk has never been known for his predictability, but some of his recent moves in the Twitterverse have not gone down too well with general users. The attempts to push people towards paid accounts (for the (in)famous blue tick) by giving them special tools and the erratic performance (sudden crashes, disappearing tweets, etc.) of the social network were bad enough, but what really seemed to push people over the Twitter brink was a move by Musk to restrict the number of posts users could see in a day.

The Twitter boss said that it had been done to cut down on ‘data scrubbing’ by companies, but his decision seemed designed to reduce traffic to his own service. Meta announced Threads within a few days of this move and has reaped rich gains. Launching Threads at any other time would have also got a fair deal of attention and followership, but this was literally like someone walking into a desert, offering free water to the thirsty, just when the existing water provider had announced a ration of one glass a day! Meta literally hit the social networking iron when it was hot.

The Musk Factor: What the Zuck!

Finally, there is the not-so-little matter of Elon Musk. Twitter has been in a state of churn ever since the Tesla man took over, and while there is no doubt that Musk has shown that the network can be run with a significantly smaller team, an air of uncertainty has enveloped the Twitterverse since his arrival. The reason for this is Musk’s reputation as a maverick who follows his own counsel. There are times when he seems to have based decisions about Twitter on random user surveys on the social network. Zuckerberg, the man behind Meta, for all his faults, has never really tried to restrict the users of any of his social networks or tried to push them too hard to pay, or for that matter, made grandiose declarations on social media.

Meta has its own problems (too many news, fake news promotions, et al.), but Instagram users have not yet been told that they will be allowed to see only five posts, two stories, and one and a quarter reels every hour (although some of us wish that this would happen!). As a result, Threads has been around for only a few days but comes with a greater sense of stability around it as compared to Twitter, which has been around since 2006. Indeed, there are already rumors that Musk is looking to sell off Twitter – he himself has said that he is open to selling the company to “the right person”.

All of which makes Threads the most formidable challenger Twitter has ever faced. It comes from a social networking rival with deep pockets and a massive subscriber base. What’s more, it offers pretty much what Twitter does without the attendant eccentricity. Unless Twitter pulls up its socks, it could find itself hanging by a Thread(s). Pun intended.

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