The cage war has left its bars—Zuckerberg launches Twitter rival. But is it good?
Last month, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to fight it out with Twitter CTO Elon Musk in a cage. The bizarre event garnered a lot of social media buzz (and produced some excellent memes). To paint a picture of things to come, Musk boasted (kind of, maybe), “I have this great move that I call ‘The Walrus’, where I just lie on top of my opponent and do nothing.” Musk, who has actually been practicing Brazilian jujitsu since the pandemic, also came up with another burn, “Zuck my 👅.” As this childish banter continues, Zuckerberg decided to pre-game by poking the Walrus and launching a Twitter competitor: Threads (a metaphor for the loose ones in their relationship?).
Threads comes at a time when Twitter’s offices are quivering with uncertainty. As the established social networking app crumbled, Zuckerberg saw the opportunity to metaphorically “Zucker” punch him by launching a competitor. The Threads app logged in five million users in its first four hours. So, what’s the app all about, and should your business be on it?
What is Threads?
Threads, supported by Instagram, lets users share text updates and join public conversations, much like Twitter. You can sign in with your Instagram account and make posts up to 500 characters long (greater than Twitter’s 280-character limit). The posts can include links, photos and videos up to five minutes in length.
Threads aims to work with open social networks in the future. It provides a separate space for real-time updates and public discussions, catering to creators and casual users. Like all the social media apps out there, you can discover and connect with others who share similar interests on this new platform.
Here’s a brownie point feature of Threads: Upon logging in, the app considerately prompts you to follow the same accounts you follow on Instagram. You can even import your Instagram bio and link straight onto your Threads profile. Admittedly, Zuckerberg is making some commendable efforts in enticing existing Instagram users to join Threads. However, unlike Instagram, you can’t filter out posts from people you aren’t following on your main feed at the moment. Also, Threads lacks a DM (direct message) function currently.
Safety feature-wise, the app incorporates user controls to ensure a secure experience. When individuals under 16 (or under 18 in specific countries) join Threads, their profiles will be private by default. Moreover, Threads incorporates core accessibility features found on Instagram, including support for screen readers and AI-generated image descriptions.
Why does it matter?
After Musk bought Twitter in a whopping US$40 billion deal, he laid off half the employees, changed the rules and tried to implement arbitrary rules that simply didn’t fly. It was chaotic. Most recently, Twitter faced outages and rule changes, leading to criticism from long-time users. The billionaire Twitter owner limited the number of posts non-blue-checked users could see per day and temporarily blocked non-account holders from viewing tweets, resulting in widespread dissatisfaction.
Threads then comes as a worthy opponent, backed by Meta and, more importantly, Zuckerberg. Though they are in some sort of a war, they share one thing (a passion, if you must) in common: they are rich, white, billionaire men attempting to control the social supply of the world.
Threads will likely become the new go-to platform for influencers and brands dealing with the Twitter paid blue tick fiasco, where fake profiles keep popping up, thus hurting their image.
Should you get on Threads?
There is little way of telling if this is all hype or if Threads has something of substance to offer. Threads might be a good place to go if you’ve been casting around for a Twitter alternative to share your brief thoughts, opinions or jokes. However, if you never cared for Twitter and could never squeeze your words to fit character limits, perhaps you could pass on this one. After all, it’s only the first version. Currently, users might get random content on their feed and cannot look up particular posts, only accounts.
For influencers and brands, this might be a good time to join Threads to indicate that they are always on top of trends. This is also an opportunity to create engaging content for the first few million people looking to interact with the app. Since competition is low right now, your business might get some time to claim the spotlight.
As the company works on improving the app for the following versions, you might want to get on later, if only to stay posted on the upcoming cage war. In any war, the first point of attack is mental; get into the minds of your opponents, as they say. Zuckerberg has made his move, launching Threads when Twitter’s back is against the wall. Now, the ball’s in Musk’s court.
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Header Image by Instagram