Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, announced the launch of Threads, a microblogging platform powered by Instagram, on July 4, 2023.
The app garnered an astounding five million registered users in less than six hours, and within a week, the number skyrocketed to 100 million, making it the highest user count for any social media platform.
Threads was widely seen as a potential successor to Twitter, but without the toxic news and political discussions that have plagued the latter.
However, is Threads truly a viable replacement for Twitter?
After nearly two decades of dominating online conversations, Twitter is experiencing a decline as users seek alternative platforms with a less chaotic atmosphere.
According to a report by Similarweb, Twitter’s web visits and app usage have steadily dropped since the beginning of 2023. The platform has faced criticism for its algorithm and design, which seemingly reward negativity with more visibility, creating a toxic environment for its users.
Twitter is not the only platform facing challenges. Instagram, also owned by Meta, has seen its usage threatened by TikTok and BeReal, two social media apps that prioritize genuine interactions and unfiltered content.
Instagram, initially a photo-sharing platform, has been accused of promoting superficiality and excessive advertising, leading younger users to migrate to alternatives like BeReal.
In response to these challenges, Twitter introduced a view limit for users, limiting the number of tweets they can view per day. This move spurred an exodus of users from the platform to explore newer alternatives like SPILL, a meme-forward social platform that promotes a safe space for marginalized groups and cultural drivers. Other platforms like TRUTH Social, which emerged in February 2022, also experienced a surge in traffic following Twitter’s update.
Despite the initial hype, Threads’ user engagement has dropped significantly. Similarweb reports a decline in daily active users from 49 million at launch to 23.6 million last Friday, along with a decrease in average usage time from 21 minutes to six minutes.
TRUTH Social also struggled to meet projected user numbers, and its head of engineering resigned amid the platform’s growth challenges.
Experts like Mark Amaza, a policy expert, are skeptical about whether newer social media platforms can truly replace established ones like Twitter. Transitioning to Twitter from Facebook was relatively smooth in the past, but the landscape has changed, and people are now seeking unique experiences and a less toxic environment.
Saratu Abiola, a journalist and communications strategist, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that replicating existing social media apps won’t work in the current political and trust landscape. She believes platforms offering distinct experiences, like TikTok, have a better chance of sustained growth, as they break through the balkanization seen on other social media platforms.
Trust plays a crucial role in people’s engagement with social media platforms. The rise of toxicity and superficiality online has eroded trust, leading to fewer genuine interactions and a preference for sticking with familiar communities. Twitter and Instagram’s long dominance has solidified these bonds, making it challenging for new platforms to displace them.
By Elijah Christopher