Threads Is Live—Now What Happens?

From The Poynter Report with Tom Jones:

Twitter now has some competition. Threads — the social media app that could end up being competition for the Elon Musk-owned (and some say Musk-ruined) Twitter — is now live. The Meta-owned, Instagram-companion social network is off to a flying start, with more than 30 million users in the first 16 hours after it went live.

In a post on Threads, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “This is as good of a start as we could have hoped for!” He later added, “Feels like the beginning of something special.”

CNN’s Clare Duffy wrote, “The mood on Threads Wednesday night felt a bit like the first day of school, with early adopters rushing to try out the app and write their first posts — and some questioning whether the app could end up being the ‘Twitter killer.’ As of Thursday morning, Threads was the top free app on Apple’s App Store and a top trending topic on Twitter.”

The Instagram part of this is what’s helping Threads get off the ground. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans, who also has covered media extensively in his career, told me, “I think the idea of allowing people to transfer their connections over from Instagram was ingenious. Because the biggest challenge for new social media platforms is developing a community large enough that people want to participate and feel their participation has a tangible result.”

Deggans went on to explain, “As much as critics complained about Elon Musk’s transformation of Twitter, it has remained a place where lots of connections are made and communities continue to converse. Within hours of its inception, there are conversations happening on Threads, because people are importing their connections from another, long-standing social media platform. Right now, it feels a lot like walking into a huge party where you know many of the people, but you have to move around a bit to connect with them in this new place and start having conversations. If there is a sense that those conversations will resonate across a wide range of people with an impact outside the service, then I think Meta will have created a formidable platform.”

Deggans was one of many media observers and experts that I and my Poynter colleagues talked to about Threads’ debut. Check out our piece at

So can this really be competition for Twitter? Well, despite a decent start, that remains to be seen.

The New York Times’ Mike Isaac wrote, “Many tech companies have tried capitalizing on Twitter’s turmoil in recent months. But Threads has a leg up, backed by Meta’s deep pockets and Instagram’s enormous user base of more than two billion monthly active users around the world.”

“But,” The Washington Post’s Geoffrey A. Fowler and Naomi Nix wrote, “Threads also comes with Meta baggage, including privacy, moderation and algorithmic feed practices that have turned many people off Zuckerberg’s other social networks such as Facebook. For example: From the moment you first log in to Threads, it starts showing you recommended posts from accounts and brands you don’t necessarily follow — or necessarily even care to see.”

Both the Times and Posts stories do a good job of comparing and contrasting Twitter and Threads.

But the question everyone wants to know is can Threads give Twitter serious competition? And, ultimately, could it be the “Twitter killer” that some think (hope?) it will be?

I asked Axios media reporter Sara Fischer if Threads could be a threat to Twitter and she told me, “Yes — not because the advertising dollars will move over immediately, but because it will eventually put a dent in Twitter’s engagement. Once the flywheel begins, and prominent voices start to break news on Threads, it will be harder for Twitter to chase that momentum. They won’t introduce ads to Threads until it reaches much larger adoption.”

Be sure to check out Fischer’s “Meta’s copycat machine,” about apps that have mostly failed for lack of user adoption.

“Most of those apps had users in the hundreds of thousands range,” Fischer said before noting that Threads is already in the 10s of millions.

Threads also has a chance to work because users want it to work, mostly because they are tired of all the drama that comes with Musk and Twitter, including recent and supposed temporary moves that limit the number of tweets one can read in a day, as well as putting its popular TweetDeck behind a paywall starting next month.

The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern and Ann-Marie Alcántara had a smart opening line to their story about it: “If you’re wondering what it’s like to use the new Threads app, just close your eyes and picture Twitter but with a lot less Elon Musk — and that’s exactly the point.”

For the record, and you knew this was coming, Semafor’s Max Tani reported that Twitter sent a letter to Zuckerberg, threatening to sue over what it claims is “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”

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