Threads stands the biggest chance of defeating Twitter, and it’s out today.
Meta is launching a brand new app named Threads today in UK and US markets – with Europe to follow.
Available on the Apple App Store from this morning (6 July), Threads’ proposition appears quite vague in the description – the App Store content simply says Threads is “Instagram’s text-based conversation app”, in which users can “say more”.
Reading between the lines, and viewing the screenshots advertising the app, it’s pretty clear that Threads is situating itself as an app that does, well, exactly what Twitter does.
All of this arrives in a landscape dominated by Elon Musk, who appears to many to be working tirelessly to set Twitter on fire. We’ve covered this topic extensively before, here – it definitely seems like he’s always finding new ways to alienate his user base in a race to the bottom against… himself.
The latest fiasco is the infamous Rate Limit – where no-one can see a tweet unless logged in, non-paying users were capped at 600 tweets per day, and verified accounts at 6,000 posts per day. After that, users will get a message that says, “rate limit exceeded”, and nothing new will load. There are varying reports about its implementation, with some claiming to remain unaffected, but Twitter have officially owned up to the limitations at the time of writing.
The reason behind this, Musk claims, is that the limits help tackle the ‘scraping of vast amounts of data from Twitter by almost everyone’ – with culprits named as ‘AI companies and startups to tech companies’. Not only did this new restrictive feature come with a lot of criticism from users – including news and weather organisations that rely on browsing thousands of tweets a day in order to function and give us credible updates on things as they happen – it’s also caused a breakage with Google, effectively stopping tweets from showingup in search results. In one fell swoop, 50% of links to Twitter dropped off the search engine. Which is… a lot.
We can only assume this strategy is about making the Twitter experience so bad that people feel forced to pay the Twitter Blue subscription fee to continue using the app functionally, and in a landscape where platforms are desperately vying for eyeballs and attention to keep people browsing, Twitter’s changes have overnight made Twitter less scrollable, less searchable and less on-the-pulse.
It’s no wonder then, that rival platforms smelled all of that blood, and now the sharks are circling.
Threads as a concept isn’t new.
We’ve had Truth Social, Mastodon, and BlueSky (run by ex-CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey) all precede Threads as Twitter dupes.
In fact, some of those apps saw nice boosts to their numbers directly after Elon’s Rate Limit announcement a few days ago – with reports that Bluesky saw “record high traffic” on Saturday and that it was temporarily pausing new sign-ups as a result. Mastodon also saw its active user base swell by 110,000 on that day, according to a statement by its CEO.
However, lost in amongst the swell is the fact that no one really believed any of these new apps could replace Twitter.
Until now, of course.
There’s no argument that Threads is Twitter’s most credible challenger to date, not only because Meta owner Zuckerberg has a real talent for taking other social platform ideas and making them work on his own – the biggest proof being Meta’s TikTok copy, Reels – but also because it’s not been drawn up on the back of a napkin for political reasons, as the others Twitter wannabes seem to have been.
Threads is serious stuff.
Meta undoubtedly has the resources to compete with Twitter, especially in the Musk era, combined with a network of existing users to hit the ground running with. Threads will be part of the Instagram platform, so it will be connected to hundreds of millions of accounts from day one, and that makes a real difference to the make or break of an app like this. In fact, there are some theories floating around that the ‘scraping’ that Elon spoke about as the reason for the Rate Limit could potentially be something related to Threads – something that would allow the users to bring all of their followers across from Twitter into Threads seamlessly perhaps? A current minor conspiracy theory that might just turn out to be true as Meta aims to capture Twitter users as they flock from the app in their droves.
Whilst no-one knows exactly how it’s going to look – for personal users and for brands – until it starts hitting our phones – it’s certainly not going to be welcome news to an already struggling Twitter.
And for now? We might just post this blog on Threads. Got to be worth a punt, right?