Barely a fortnight after the launch of Threads, it appears the dust is starting to settle on Meta’s latest venture. Regardless of how you view its launch, it has clearly rattled Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of rival Twitter, and shown Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that there is appetite out there for a viable alternative to Twitter.
Threads got off to a flying start, notching up millions of users within hours, and at 100 million downloads in five days, it is one of the fastest adopted apps ever. It blitzed past all expectations as the fear of missing out drove more and more users to the platform – even if the app wasn’t available from the app store in the EU.
It was inevitable that user engagement would drop after the first flush. Reports last week indicated that people were spending less time on the app than before, dropping from 20 minutes to 10 minutes, according to data from Sensor Tower.
But that doesn’t mean that users will abandon the service. User feedback seems to be that it is a much more pleasant place for users to spend their time, if a little rough around the edges.
It should also be noted that the decline in Threads engagement coincides with Meta blocking access to the app from the EU – including those accessing through virtual private networks to hide their location. While the accounts are still active, users can’t create Threads of their own, and some parts of the app are inaccessible.
As Twitter becomes increasingly hostile and toxic for many users, the appetite for an alternative is increasing. Others have seen a spike in user interest, with Mastodon, Post and Spoutible all being touted as alternatives. But as an offshoot of Instagram, Threads has one powerful thing going for it: it brings a ready-made community to users, rather than forcing them to build it from scratch. And it has promise for the future, with plans to make it compatible with interoperable social networks, although whether those social networks will engage is a different question.
Call it what you want – a Twitter rival or replacement, a clone, the next big social media app or a flash-in-the-pan. But Threads isn’t going anywhere just yet.