Twitter vs Threads is More Interesting Than You Think

While the world waits for a physical MMA fight between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg was being treated with an online fight first. The crazy South African and the subdued robot man go head to head in the social media space. The drama really started back in October of 2022, when Twitter just kept tripping over ever since Elon Musk took over. Soon problems with Twitter's verification was causing chaos in the real world. Stock markets became confused, they could not tell the difference between the Twitter account of a real company or just some troll online, individual stocks flash crashed as bizarre announcements were made by trolls pretending to be the PR department of a company. Twitter also saw a haphazard firing process, lawsuits, Bots, advertisers leaving and just generally nobody really knew what was going on.

Twitter vs Threads is More Interesting Than You Think

But over in the other corner, Zuckerberg was watching all of this closely and he was waiting. Twitter chaos was unfolding many users switched to other microblogging sites like Mastodon, Tumblr, And Hive Social. Meta employees saw this as a golden opportunity and in January 2023 they began developing an app which they called Project 92, project 92 would later become Threads and on June 9th, 2023 in a meeting with employees, Meta's Chief product officer Chris Cox would say that

 "We've been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run". 

It was a stab at Elon on the 5th of July Threads is launched. The public was skeptical but to the shock of everyone within just one day Threads reaches 30 million users at the same time Twitter took four years to reach the same number. Elon was Furious and decides to sue Mark. July 6 2023 Zuckerberg does something unexpected after not tweeting in 11 years he taunts Mark with a meme within five days threads would have a hundred million users about 30 of Twitter's user base and at the same time Twitter's traffic began tanking after this Musk begins berating Zuckerberg on Twitter, it looks like things are getting heated but what is all the fuss about is Threads really that big of a threat to Twitter? Obviously, these 100 million sign-ups on threads is all just hype right now, but what happens next what about the risk of a meta Monopoly, and what about security concerns in this post we'll take a look but also in this story there's a detail that I haven't heard many other people talk about meta plans to use an open decentralized technology you could theoretically write a post on Facebook see it on Twitter or comment on an Instagram post and see it on Tick Tock, in short apps become nothing but an interface skin to view social interactions. This is the biggest major change in social media in 15 years, but just because the technology is open doesn't mean that we should trust Zuckerberg. It's all very interesting and we'll get into that later.

But first, let's start at the basics. what is Threads, Threads is a Twitter clone for real-time updates and public conversations the main difference at the moment is in its features and culture. On Twitter, Anything Goes but on thread, they're actively not going to encourage politics or hard news. Mark Zuckerberg's company meta hosting Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp has launched its own micro-blogging platform called Threads. Since its launch threads grew quickly, within several hours the platform amassed over 2 million users, after one day it reached 30 million, and at this point this made Threads the most rapidly downloaded app in history surpassing the previous records set by chatGPT. At the time of writing, Threads has over 100 million users about 30 percent of what Twitter has. So the real reason for this fast adoption is not the fact that Threads is a better app than Twitter. It's more so that Zuckerberg has done something very clever. Twitter had to grow its user base from scratch but with Threads people who use Instagram can simply just sign up to threads using their existing account and they can bring along their followers and verification. Getting people to download and sign up for a brand-new social media platform is hard. Instagram has 2.3 billion users. Launching threads through Instagram reduces a lot of friction. 

Next, we take platform culture. Threads it's pretty boring at least when compared to Twitter, it seems like Threads is controlled and on guard rails. There's not much of that random chaos that you see on Twitter whether that be wacky entertaining posts or Bots and spam. On threads, Zuckerberg has stated that

 "The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands I think it's possible and will ultimately be the key to success"

That's one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have and we want to do it differently. In the end, we could see both platforms coexisting but for different reasons. Twitter is more edgy and chaotic, whereas threads once established and with more features are a calmer more corporate place for discourse and also thanks to Instagram Threads will have the unique advantage of a generally younger audience and an audience that may come from geographical regions that don't use Twitter. as for Threads right now it functions solidly. It works smooth and is familiar. However it is missing a lot of features there's no trending news, no DMS, and no strong recommendation algorithm a feature that will be essential to its long-term success but it's still early days.

Twitter vs Threads is More Interesting Than You Think

So who could come out on top here? Well, looking at corporate history it's not looking good for Elon. Elon and Zuckerberg come from opposite ends of business. Elon's experience lies in delivering physical products. It's more of a mechanical engineering and mechanics Vein. On the other hand, since 2004 Zuckerberg has basically grown up building social networks. He sure likes to mine our data but one thing he has got in Spades is experience. On the other hand, Elon Musk's inexperience in this area is starting to show, Twitter is having a hard time monetizing a report by Insider Intelligence is predicting a massive slump in Twitter's ad Revenue by the end of the year to make up for it longer tweets, longer videos and verification are all now behind paywalls even tweet deck is behind a paywall. This kind of behavior from Twitter is in line with being a monopoly, they had the biggest platform in the space so they could bump up costs at will and users had virtually no choice but to take it. Even though some did try to move to smaller similar platforms, there wasn't enough of a network effect to challenge Twitter. Zuck has led a team whose expertise is in platform monetization and Meta may be able to figure out what Twitter couldn't. Although threads will not have ads until 1 billion users. Meta already has a good and established relationship with advertising clients. Threads is also seeing more user engagement than Twitter, which bots well for advertisers.

Even though Twitter does have a new CEO Linda Yaccarino Musk would still tweet business decisions that would make investors nervous. Without warning he decided to limit the number of tweets that users can see. Many Twitter users reported problems accessing the site today after Elon Musk said he's putting a limit on the number of tweets users can read per day. Elon said that this was to stop bot scraping but there might be more to this back in March Musk refused to pay 70 million dollars in fees to Amazon web services, the company that provides Twitter with the infrastructure to run. Twitter is also being fined a hundred thousand dollars because Elon isn't paying the company's rent as he believes that it's not worth it in San Francisco. So if the trends are anything to go by and Amazon web services isn't being paid again it's possible that they've been throttling data usage for Twitter and this could be the real reason behind limiting the views for tweets. 

So all in all it looks like purely from a business technical ability Zuck seems to have the upper hand here but again Anything Could Happen. So let's take a look at this lawsuit, Twitter is reportedly threatening to sue Meta over its new Threads platform. News outlets say a lawyer for Twitter has sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg. After the initial success of threads Musk made his thoughts clear

"Competition is fine cheating is not"

In a legal letter to Zuckerberg, Twitter would accuse them of  systematic willful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter's Trade Secrets and other intellectual property it's going to be a hard case and according to Polk Wagner a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania

"Twitter also needs to show that Threads took information that was economically valuable and which the company had taken responsible efforts to keep secret"
Twitter had also claimed that Meta had taken ex-employees Who had and continue to have access to Twitter's Trade Secrets and other highly confidential information and they called Threads a  "copycat app". Ironically Musk had previously tweeted that the Geniuses that he fired should be able to find jobs elsewhere. A meta spokesperson Andy Stone would rebut that no one on the threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee.

So in this whole story, Zuckerberg is coming out looking like the more measured one here. It does seem like after his hearings and podcast appearances the General Public's impression of him has improved but we shouldn't forget Cambridge Analytica and how Facebook collected personal data from millions of users. Some of which was used for political advertising. This isn't to mention the countless other scandals that Meta has been embroiled in and also around 32 percent of the world's population is on Instagram and soon every world leader could be on Thread. Meta has the GDP and influence over populations that most governments would dream of. Meta platforms know your personality and political stances who you're friends with all to serve you better ads but this knowledge and data can be abused in many ways sold for profit or to cause political influence to add to this, former Facebook staff have previously warned that Zuckerberg has way too much controlling power within his companies. Threads has so much tracking and user profiling that it goes beyond what's Allowed by EU data laws.

So here's the really interesting bit, while everyone is talking about the massive sign-up rate of Threads there's another story going on here. Meta plans to use a forgotten 2018 decentralized web technology called Activity Pub. So what is activity Pub David Pierce from The Verge sums it up perfectly

"It's a technology through which social networks can be made interoperable decentralized to social media is to completely separate the user interface from the underlying data anytime you sign up for a new Social app you wouldn't have to rebuild your audience or refund all your friends your whole following and following list come with you those things should be part of the internet not part of an app you'll be able to post a picture on Instagram and I could see it and comment on it from the Twitter app different apps will have different strengths and weaknesses different moderation policies and Creator tools but you will have the same set of followers and follow the same accounts no matter which platform you use"

Mike McHugh the CEO of Flipboard told The Verge "I was there in the early days of the web and this whole thing with activity Pub is as big a deal as HTML was back then this is the single biggest opportunity I've seen for the web since the dawn of the web". This is the biggest change in social media in 15 years. The new wave of social media companies that use this kind of decentralized protocol are collectively known as "the Fediverse". Unfortunately, Meta may use the technology for their own game the really only thing about Threads that has me interested is their activity Pub integration so that people on Instagram threads can interact with people under Fediverse.  I don't see Facebook approaching this in a way that's designed to break down walls and create a more open internet where platforms get to speak to each other for the benefit of the end user you which is the whole point of activity Pub. I think this activity Pub aspect is an important area of the story to keep your eye on if Threads are successful and using activity Pub. Zuckerberg theoretically could create as many clones of different Standalone apps that he wants with ease.

Cambridge Analytica was a warning today's social media companies are much bigger than they were then and Zuckerberg is on his way to a social media app Monopoly with Facebook, Instagram WhatsApp, messenger, and now Threads. All under his belt if for any reason Meta was persuaded to block a trending topic or sway popular opinion, it's just that little bit easier for them to do now what happens next is anyone's guess, but this should be looked at closely. As for Twitter, it's unlikely that it will die but the game has changed from a business perspective there's a lot of new risk that's built up if Elon says something crazy that offends people or something on Twitter breaks users. can now just jump to Threads. It's going to be a slow grind but the potential is there for a death-by-a-thousand-cut scenario for Twitter so what's the final most probable outcome. 

Well in my opinion, I think that once the initial hype dies down from Threads, we could see both platforms coexist just with a different culture, different uses, and different use cases. In the end, The Biggest Loser of all of this is going to be Linda the new CEO of Twitter. She's definitely going to have her work cut out and as a side, point imagine if all of this was just advertising for the upcoming boxing match between Musk and Zuckerberg, that would be pretty funny if that was true.

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