Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram has now launched Threads, to directly compete with Twitter. The number of those using Twitter has fallen, compared to 2022 by about 4%. It is expected to fall further to 335 million in 2024, according to Obelo. There are currently 2.35 billion monthly active Instagram users. While Instagram is largely visual based, Meta is banking on the possibility of a good chunk of Instagram users finding the option of text based microblogging attractive. In the first four hours after launch, over 5 million people had signed up to Threads. A day after the launch, Meta’s share price went up 4%, reaching the highest in 18 months.
The launch of Threads is the greatest signal yet that the battle for platforms rages on. On the App Store, it is called ‘Threads, an Instagram app’, signaling that Meta will rely on its 2.35 billion monthly Instagram users, about 70 millionsof those in Africa as at 2022 to get the app going. It is also expected that people will be able to log in through their Instagram account. Threads will not only compete with Twitter, but also with Bluesky. Currently, Bluesky requires you to have an invite code to be able to join. In the last few months, deepening uncertainty about the direction of Twitter, have left many disillusioned.
Twitter, established in 2006, had more than 100 million users by 2012 and became 10 of the most visited websites by 2013. By 2019, it had more than 330 million active users, though about 15% of that was estimated to be fake by 2020. Elon Musk acquired and gained control of Twitter October 2022 for US $44 billion. Before then, growth had slowed. What culminated in the purchase of Twitter was not a business motivated purchase but frustration about the platform’s commitment to free speech and democracy. So, he initially bought shares but was not allowed to join the board – poison pill.
Since its purchase, Twitter, at best, has been characterised by volatility, and that is what has “annoyed” users and driven away advertisers. In the space of six months, Twitter has banned platform linkages, stopped tweet Bot working, removed legacy verification badges, and limited the number of tweets users can see. Unsurprisingly, Meta pounced and launched Threads, reaching almost 100 million users in 72 hours, all signing up through their Instagram accounts (the only way to sign up for now). However, the last few weeks has seen Twitter, now X bounced back with payments to content providers, a measure that has proved very popular.
While platforms have always been powerful, incredible advancement in technology has made them even more powerful. Platforms (anywhere with the capacity to bring large ‘gathering’ of people) have always been there e.g., Coca Cola or Kodak advertising during world cups before any of these technology platforms started. Advancement in technology has also made competition very. Platform companies can compete faster and at a scale never seen before.