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5 reasons why Threads by Instagram may fail to rival Twitter
Meta launched Threads as a way to bring expanded conversations to Instagram users – and rival Elon Musk's Twitter platform
Threads by Instagram is the biggest and newest threat to Twitter at a time when the Elon Musk-owned social media platform is struggling with rate limit exceeded error messages and certain users fleeing Twitter (or at least threatening to leave).
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Cue up an impressive Threads stat: 70 million users joined Threads in a little over its first 24 hours, according to Meta CEO and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The app, available on iOS and Android but not the web so far, is abuzz with messages from influencers who want to push it to be another way to connect with followers. The Threads platform is clean, conversational and feels like a fresh start.
This doesn’t mean that Threads has killed Twitter. It has a long way to go before it’s as full-featured as the 17-year-old Twitter, which boasts Twitter Spaces, trends, editable tweets, hashtags and 238 million monetizable daily active users.
In fact, I can think of five reasons Threads may fail to rival Twitter and five reasons it has a chance (coming in Part 2). Here’s my early insight into Threads’ chances:
1. Bad actors haven’t joined Threads – yet
👿 The riffraff hasn’t entered the chat – that’s what worries me the most. Yes, big influencers (some paid to dupe you) and early adopters are already gushing over Threads, and the conversations seem fun and civil. It hasn’t gotten overly political and there’s little sign of infighting on my Threads timeline.
But Instagram is filled with SPAM accounts, scams, predators and the same sort of vitriol that you see more plainly on Twitter. These bad actors haven’t joined Threads en masse yet, but it’s only a matter of time before they migrate from Instagram to take advantage of the open playing field. What you see before you will not last.
2. Twitter’s death has been greatly exaggerated
🪦 Twitter is 17 years old and is still standing. Other tech media outlets have predicted the death of Twitter almost every week since Elon Musk took over, but their reporting (or wishful thinking) hasn’t come true. Remember that weekend after Twitter’s mass layoffs when the platform was supposed to completely crash while the World Cup going on? Yeah, baloney.
Mastodon, Hive, Post, Spoutible, Countersocial and even Substack Notes have all tried to claim a piece of Twitter’s audience pie and haven’t gotten very far. Even if BlueSky is backed by Jack Dorsey, invites have meant that user growth is slow – just like the pace of conversations. Twitter won’t go away overnight.
3. It’s Threads by Instagram by Facebook
🤔 Will Threads inherit Instagram’s development shortfalls? Instragm is one of the biggest social media platforms on Earth, so I’m bewildered by its struggles to include basic features. There are no cloud saves on your drafts – so anything you’re working on is stuck on your device and your device alone. This affects social media teams (like ours) and your ability to easily upgrade your iPhone. And who hasn’t experienced the nightmare of trying to tap one of many layers when creating an Instagram Reel or Story? Grabbing the wrong layer (like a large background image) to the front can hide every other layer (usually a lot of smaller stickers) forcing redos.
How can Threads become a meaningful Twitter rival if Instagram can’t handle some of the most basic elements of creating content? Both Facebook and Instagram have a UI and feature set that’s both chaotic and lacking; beyond their powerful algorithms, I’m a little concerned that Threads could fall into the same messy trap when expanding.
4. Threads privacy concerns feel very ‘meta’
😬 Who is reading all of your words on Threads and for what purpose? Pictures are worth a thousand words, they say, but AI loves harvesting actual words. Meta has had that ability with Facebook more so than Instagram, and Threads is another way to tap into the conversations of younger generations that gave up on Facebook as soon as their parents (who are still on Facebook) joined.
Meta, well, Facebook right before the company conveniently changed its name to Meta, has been embroiled in some of the biggest privacy violations in the Internet age (see the Cambridge Analytica scandal). There’s a reason Threads hasn’t launched in the European Union (so far it’s available in the US and UK) and we’ve come to learn that you can’t delete your Threads account without also deleting your Instagram. It already feels icky.
5. Threads may become an echo chamber
🤼 It only took a little bit of time for Big Tech to catch up to Big Media. “Can’t we all just get along,” sounds great in theory, but half of the US population fleeing Twitter for Threads is bound to create two distinct echo chambers, exactly like we see in cable news today. Most people can’t stand the back-and-forth squabbles on Twitter and it feels like they resolve nothing, but when claims go unchecked because everyone on the platform agrees with the wild ideas – that’s an even bigger problem. Twitter’s Community Notes has been a good example of fact-checking questionable tweets. But if half of the country is fed up with Elon Musk and flees to Threads, won’t those claims go unvetted? I’d rather hear from all sides than have each side separately believe their own 💩 smells like 🌸.