Tell me there’s pent-up demand for a largely text-based information-sharing and social network that is not Twitter without telling me there’s pent-up demand. Only four hours after Twitter’s competitor Threads was released in 120 countries, Meta – the social network from Facebook – reached five million registrations.
“Just passed five million sign-ups in the first four hours …” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his personal Threads account.
For contrast, decentralized Twitter rival Mastodon took months to grow by three million, and about a month of “fast” growth to go from six million to eight million.
Zuckerberg’s Threads has more than 310,000 subscribers, and is still growing. Twitter’s Elon Musk has almost 150 million followers on his social platform.
Facebook’s social media platform, which was launched by Zuckerberg to take on Twitter, is doing well. However, the battle could escalate to include a personal fight between Elon Mots, Twitter’s CEO, and Zuckerberg at some stage later in 2018.
The growth is not without growing pains. Zuckerberg’s own account page does not show any of his threads right now, and the app has had some difficulty coping with the onslaught. It’s been slow to post, and crashed for me and some others today.
Meta must be pleased with the rapid growth, as it has had to shut down many other products and apps, including Poke and Parse. A fast start doesn’t mean there will be lasting success, of course, but this is a uniquely opportune time to launch Threads.
“With Twitter’s current situation, Reddit on fire, and soon-to-be-banned TikTok … Threads has the perfect environment to take the opportunity and grow Meta’s monopoly on social media,” says Manual Sainsily, a futurist and technologist at Unity Technologies, in a post on Threads.
Twitter has, as you may know, limited the number of views for tweets in response to what Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter, called a blatant scraping of Twitter’s content. Reddit’s unpaid subreddit moderation staff has had a recent battle with third-party Reddit app developers, and TikTok is under fire from American politicians for its Chinese ties.
Zuckerberg called Threads “an open and friendly public place for conversation” in a launch video, saying that it takes the best parts of the Instagram experience and “creates a whole new app around text, ideas, and sharing what’s on your mind.”
The program also asks for a great deal of personal information, but he didn’t mention it.
Zuckerberg says he wants to build Threads into a “big and friendly community we all want to see in the world,” a clear dig at Twitter’s sometimes raucous, sometimes rancorous, and occasionally downright nasty conversations.
The Threads app is available only on iOS. Threads.net promises a web-based experience and an Android app is not far away.
Meta, who has billions of user networks on Facebook, WhatsApp Instagram and Messenger, knows what it takes to scale. So it’s likely Threads will shed its birthing pains soon. However, the Threads app is still fairly—dare I say it—threadbare, with many core features of mature social platforms, such as direct messages, still missing.
Twitter is still the leader in terms of daily users, with over 370,000,000. So Threads has a long ways to go to challenge Elon Musk’s social platform for scale and live up the size of its Meta siblings.
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