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Since news broke in 2017 that Twitter had been over-reporting its monthly active user count, the platform’s user volume remains undisclosed. However, when comparing it to the approximately 326 million active monthly users it had around that time, the difference becomes apparent.
Now, Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, has launched Threads, raising questions about its potential success. Interestingly, Zuckerberg had previously attempted to purchase Twitter back in 2008 but was unsuccessful. This context underscores the significance of Threads’ introduction to the market.
Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion has seen its struggles to turn a profit, leading to reduced staff and policy changes that have alienated some users. In a recent move, Musk temporarily limited the number of tweets nonpaying users could view daily. Twitter’s decision to restrict tweet visibility unless users were signed in was quickly reversed after facing backlash.
Amidst these challenges, communities mourn the Twitter of the past, as policy changes continue to generate waves of tweets about leaving the platform. Coupled with a significant decline in advertising spending, Twitter’s future remains uncertain.
As Threads enters the market, it faces modern challenges that early Twitter did not have to confront. Data privacy concerns have impeded the app’s launch in the European Union and have already caused headlines in the United States.
The app’s financial stability also raises questions, considering Meta’s layoffs and Zuckerberg’s extensive investments in the Metaverse virtual reality venture. While Threads currently lacks advertisements, Zuckerberg has expressed intentions to monetize the platform once it reaches a clear path to 1 billion users.
Furthermore, the market share remains fragmented, with multiple apps vying to replace Twitter. Threads aims to operate within the “fediverse,” a federated universe of apps that adhere to similar communication rules. This might appeal to creators and individuals with large followings who are hesitant to start over on a new platform.
Ultimately, Threads’ success may hinge on whether users embrace it and build it into the culture they desire. Zuckerberg has emphasized the importance of creating a friendly environment on Threads, distinguishing it from Twitter’s shortcomings.
However, it is worth noting that Zuckerberg has previously attempted to replicate features from other platforms without surpassing the competition’s success. For instance, Facebook’s Stories feature sought to emulate the ephemerality of Snapchat, while Instagram’s Reels aimed to capture the addictive scrolling experience of TikTok. Neither feature managed to outperform their rivals.
Threads’ potential weakness lies in its association with the Meta brand. Known as the “terrible uncle problem,” this predicament arises when users feel compelled to censor themselves due to the presence of family, colleagues, and acquaintances on the platform. Younger users, in particular, may be deterred by a social space where they feel obligated to filter their content.
Threads’ launch represents a new contender in the quest to recreate the Twitter experience. However, its success will depend on overcoming market challenges, privacy concerns, financial stability, and the ability to create a user-friendly environment that resonates with its target audience.