User growth at X stalls after Elon Musk takeover and rise of Meta’s Threads

Social media group suffers slowdown as billionaire divides audiences and Mark Zuckerberg launches rival platform

Social media platform X has seen new users stall.

X has been hit by stalling user growth, as the social media platform’s owner Elon Musk divides audiences and it faces new competition from the rise of Meta’s rival platform Threads.

In previously unreleased figures, X said its number of global daily active users in the second quarter of this year was 251 million, a rise of 1.6 per cent from the same period the year before.

This contrasts with the double-digit growth experienced in the years leading up to the acquisition by Mr Musk, who took the listed company private for $44 billion in October 2022.

Mr Musk has proved a divisive leader of X, which he rebranded shortly after the takeover.


The group has shed advertisers since Musk’s takeover partly due to his stance as a “free speech absolutist”, and his decision to remove most of the platform’s content moderators.

Critics argue this has led to a more toxic experience, but Mr Musk claimed “drastic action” was needed to stem mounting financial losses.

His social media platform is also facing new competition for attention.

Facebook owner Meta launched rival platform Threads a year ago in an effort to challenge X. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg revealed it had grown to 175mn monthly active users. This compares with 600mn monthly users claimed by X.

However, analytics company Sensor Tower estimates Threads has only 38 million daily users — people who open the app at least once a day — suggesting users are using it less frequently than other social media platforms.

Threads attracted an initial surge in interest when the platform debuted last July, becoming the fastest-growing app ever, with 100 million signing up in its first week. However, it was widely written off when usage cratered shortly after.

Mr Zuckerberg admitted in a February earnings call that it was one of the company’s products that had “[blown] up before we’re ready for them to”.

The platform has steadily added users since the autumn, buoyed by its expansion into the EU in December and celebrity sign-ups such as Taylor Swift, who joined in April. It also benefits from promoting posts on sister app Instagram, which provides around two-thirds of its web traffic, said Similarweb.

Meta has deployed its existing moderation teams to Threads and made a commitment to not amplify news or political content on the platform, in an attempt to avoid the “scrutiny, negativity...or integrity risks”, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram and Threads, said last year.

A recent Ofcom survey found 17 per cent of UK adults use X as a news source. However, engagement on the platform has been sliding during national election campaigns in the US, UK and France, Similarweb data showed.

X denied the Similarweb figures, saying that its monthly users increased significantly in the US and UK between August last year and June this year, without providing specific figures. - Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024