People really thought Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg had Elon Musk by the tail when he dropped “Threads,” his Twitter knockoff. Indeed, the speed at which people signed up was staggering and it seemed like the momentum Threads had garnered would make it the first real contender.
Of course, RedState’s reporting on Threads tells the tale. The app became mighty and then became a joke just as quickly. People who had bragged that they were leaving the bird behind in order to embrace a better (read censored) experience found themselves meandering back to Twitter not long after. Soon, the 101 million signups that had happened in mere days only served to highlight its failure to compete with Musk’s app, rebranded to “X.”
According to the latest update from Business Insider, Zuckerberg’s noticed a massive drop-off, admitting that even half of its new users didn’t stick around after sign-ups. Now, Threads is moving to change up the strategy to win would-be users back by doing what Zuck does best; getting you addicted:
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said earlier this month that Threads is working on “obvious missing features” such as trending topics, hashtags, translations, the ability to view likes, and a “following” feed that only shows posts from users you know.
But Meta’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, added that Meta is also working on “retention-driving hooks” to encourage users to return to the app, such as “making sure people who are on the Instagram app can see important Threads,” Reuters reported.
That suggests there could be even more of a crossover with the photo-sharing app, which was essential in Threads’ rapid expansion since users sign up via their Instagram accounts.
Does Threads still have a chance?
Anything is possible, but the real issue with Threads isn’t hooks or interconnection with Meta’s other products. Sure, it’ll probably help, but the real issue behind the dropoff is the issue that made Twitter vulnerable to failure in the first place; a lack of trust.
While I’d hardly say X is perfect and I still see it come down on people for bizarre things from time to time, I would say that people trust Musk far more than they trust Zuck. Facebook has gone above and beyond to not just censor people, but promote certain political ideologies that benefit the left and only the left.
For more than half of America, you can trust Zuck to screw you over. You can trust Musk to at least try not to.
It’s the fact that more than half of America doesn’t want to be subjected to that level of censorship again that would inevitably lead more people back to X as well. While you might be getting the controlled environment you want, it matters little if no one is around to hear you say it. For journalists, a smaller pool of people means fewer clicks on your work, including the coveted “hate click.”
Eventually, they would meander back over to X as well, and for people who like to view and comment on news directly and without the worry of censorship, then X gon’ give it ya.
Zuck can bring out as many hooks as he wants, but he can’t and won’t do the one thing that would actually send his app into competitive territory, and that’s to simply stop censoring people to serve the needs of a singular political party. Threads integration into Facebook and Instagram will definitely boost its interactions, but it’ll just be an extra feature on an app meant for something else.
Musk remains the king of this particular mountain, and if rumors of additional features coming to X are true, then he will be for a very long time.