Will Meta’s Threads Kill Twitter?

Published on
07/07/2023 03:31 PM
meta threads kill twitter

Threads, Meta’s long-awaited Twitter Rival, has just launched after sneaking onto the App Store earlier this week. But will Zuckerberg’s latest social media copycat be the nail in the coffin for Musk’s crumbling empire? 

The Instagram-Twitter hybrid, which launched on Thursday, has logged more than 30 million sign-ups since its debut and has the potential to attract billions of users through its direct integration with Instagram. 

Meta Chief Mark Zuckerberg has pitched the app as a “friendly” rival to Twitter, which was bought by Elon Musk in October last year and has since been struck by a string of controversies throughout his leadership. 

Musk has faced major criticism from users for replacing the tweeting app’s legacy verification system with Twitter Blue, allowing anyone to pay to receive a verification tick and potentially imitate who they like. 

Most recently, he also made the decision to limit harshly limit the number of Tweets users can read per day, leading to #RIPTwitter and #Twitterddown trending as users abandoned the site on masse. 

And Just a couple of days later, Threads appeared on the app store – in what appears as a strategic move by Meta to users from the increasingly controversial Twitter. 

But Threads is just one of the many rival microblogging platforms to take advantage of Musk’s chaotic reign over the Tweeting app. 

Other similar apps, including the likes of Mastodon Bluesky – which is backed by former CEO Jack Dorsey – have tried and failed to capture Twitter’s user base, even as users abandon the tweeting app. 

But with Threads now up and running and garnering tens of millions of users, could Meta be the one that finally takes down the beloved blue bird? 

Threads vs Twitter

Threads, like Twitter, display a feed of posts called threads, of celebrities, influencers, companies and ordinary users sharing their thoughts with the world.

Users can reshare other peoples’ posts in exactly the same way they can retweet them, comment or favourite, and follow other users on the platform.

But unlike Twitter, they can log in with their Instagram account through Thread’s direct integration with the platform – giving the app more than 2 billion accounts already set up and ready to go. 

That said, this integration also means that users cannot delete their Threads account unless they delete their Instagram account as well. 

Meta’s privacy policy states: “You may deactivate your Threads profile at any time, but your Threads profile can only be deleted by deleting your Instagram account.”

Give Zuck your data

Another key difference with Threads is that it currently has no ads – though Meta’s industry-defining advertising operations are set to make their way on the app at a later date. 

Instead, Meta will be relying on data from users' posts and posts to generate income and develop other Meta technologies, including its AI platforms. 

This is in direct contrast to Twitter, which recently limited the number of Tweets a user can read due to “to address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation,” according to Musk.

Musk ask joins Reddit CEO Steve Huffamn in protesting AI companies’ harvesting of data by blocking access to Twitter's API. 

Huffman took similar action on Reddit, believing that AI firms like OpenAI must pay to take data from platforms rather than scraping it from the web without users’ consent. 

Several users, as well as experts including Dorsey, have therefore been publicly critical of Threads' move to use its users' data to train its own products. 

“All your threads beyond to us,” Dorsey tweeted upon the release of Threads’ privacy policy, criticising the app’s harvesting of data on the app. 

Musk has also been critical of the “sanely run” and “friendly narrative that Zuckerberg is portraying when advertising Threads. 

“Thank goodness they're so sanely run," Musk joked replying replying to a tweet from entrepreneur Mario Nawfal who disagreed with Meta’s "sanely run" narrative against Twitter and zeroed in on the firm’s data collection policy.

Legal action pending

Regardless of their differences, Twitter and Threads are remarkably similar. So similar in fact that Twitter is reportedly threatening to sue Meta over for “systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property,” according to a recent letter sent to Zuckerberg by Twitter’s lawyer Alex Spiro.

“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” Spiro wrote.

But Meta has hit back at the claims, with Meta’s communications director Andy Stone saying that the Threads engineering team does not have any former Twitter employees.

“To be clear: No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee – that’s just not a thing,” Mr Stone wrote.

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