Meta challenges Twitter with new Threads app
WASHINGTON—More than 10 million people have signed up to Threads, Meta’s rival to Twitter, within the first few hours of its launch, the Facebook parent’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday.
Threads is the biggest challenger yet to Elon Musk-owned Twitter, which has seen a series of potential competitors emerge but not yet replace one of social media’s most iconic companies, despite its epic struggles.
The app went live on Apple and Android app stores in 100 countries at 23:00 GMT on Wednesday, and will run with no ads for now.
“10 million sign ups in seven hours,” Zuckerberg wrote on his official Threads account Thursday.
Accounts were already active for celebrities, such as Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and Hugh Jackman, as well as media outlets, including The Washington Post and The Economist.
Zuckerberg also offered a shot across the bow at Musk—the pair are known to be bitter rivals, and have even offered to meet each other in a fighting cage to wrestle it out.
In his first tweet in over a decade, Zuckerberg posted a Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man meme in an apparent reference to the similarity of the two platforms.
Back on Threads, he wrote: “It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will.”
Twitter has said it has more than 200 million daily users.
Threads was introduced as a clear spin-off of Instagram, which offers a built-in audience of more than 2 billion users, thereby sparing the new platform the challenge of starting from scratch.
Zuckerberg is widely understood to be taking advantage of Musk’s chaotic ownership of Twitter to push out the new product, which Meta hopes will become the go-to communication channel for celebrities, companies and politicians.
In the Philippines, netizens took to Threads excitedly at first, before eventually becoming confused by the platform’s nonchronological timeline and conked-out algorithm that seems to push profiles of people they were not following at all.
Alexandra Balane, who is 26 and works as a technical support specialist, said she initially joined to see what the signup flow was like but was dismayed to see that her home page was filled with “people I follow and completely random profiles.”
“You can’t even switch to see only the people you follow,” she said. “It does look like the random profiles are like the same big accounts on Twitter to be honest, but not having the choice to only see tweets from people you choose to follow kind of ruined it for me.”
But for journalist Mara Cepeda, who works for the Singapore-based Straits Times newspaper, being on Threads “was a chance to have a fresh start and build a new community that’s not necessarily influenced yet by the algorithms of other social media platforms.”
“Journalists need to follow where our audience is, and if Threads is going to be the next platform to be, then I figured I should already be there and establish my presence as soon as I can,” said Cepeda, who has a massive following on Twitter and TikTok.
Under Musk, Twitter has seen content moderation reduced to a minimum with glitches and rash decisions scaring away celebrities and major advertisers.
Not without critics
The Tesla tycoon said last week that he was limiting access to Twitter to ward off AI companies from “scraping” the site to train their technology.
Musk then angered Twitter’s most devoted aficionados by declaring that access to its TweetDeck product—which allows users to view a fast flow of tweets at once—would be for paying customers only.
Meta has its legion of critics too, especially in Europe, and despite Instagram’s massive user base, they could slow the site’s development.
The company is criticized mainly for its handling of personal data—the essential ingredient for targeted ads that help it rake in billions of dollars in profits every quarter.
Globally, the Threads hashtag on Twitter has garnered over a million tweets.
By midday local time Thursday, Threads was the top trending topic on Japan Twitter, but many users expressed concerns over data privacy.
“Threads is run by Meta, isn’t it? It will definitely leak your real name or the game you are playing, or put you in the list of your workplace company friends,” wrote one user.
—Reports from AFP and Krixia Subingsubing