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- DLD MUNICH 2023 - 20. January 2023
On July 5th, Meta introduced “Threads” on the market which seems to have a very similar purpose to Meta’s big rival Twitter. But what’s it all about? Is it another trendy alternative that will fade soon or later, or a serious threat to Twitter?
Designed to share text updates and public conversations, the newly launched app Threads sounds awfully lot like another Twitter clone. And that’s exactly what it is. But unlike the still invite-only Bluesky, created by Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey and Mastodon, mostly known for confusing potential users due to its complicated, decentralised instances and lacklustre UX, Threads and its close ties to Instagram managed to attract over 100 million users within its first 3 weeks.
While Threads has been launched in over 100 countries, one region is notably absent – and that is the European Union. The main reason for that is the Digital Markets Act, that is supposed to prevent dominating businesses in specific fields from abusing their power. In Threads’ particular case, transferring user data from Instagram to Threads and its tie ins into the bigger Meta ecosystem appear to be the major issue. It is still uncertain when and in what form Threads will launch in the EU.
However, Threads still has pretty barebone features – posts can be up to 500 characters long, they can include links, photos, and video content up to 5 minutes in length. So far, so unexciting. The true USP of Threads, however, is the close tie into the existing Instagram ecosystem. When signing up, users can directly follow their existing Instagram contacts, creating a very low-friction process of accessing your familiar contacts and interests right from the start.
Meta also announced, that in the future Threads will be compatible with the open ActivityPub protocol, which will enable Threads to be interoperable with services like Mastodon and blogging platform WordPress and potentially every other platform that has plans to implement the standard, e.g. Tumblr. For Meta, which historically was quite protective of its walled garden of services, this is a big step towards openness, especially during times when platforms tend to shut off their services from the rest of the internet more and more, as recently demonstrated by Twitter and Reddit.
One thing is certain: Threads poses a serious temptation for the growing number of Twitter users who are currently searching for alternatives since Elon Musk took over Twitter. Musk’s latest move to rebrand Twitter to “X” and his plans of turning the platform into the West’s first AI powered “super app” covering everything from social content to banking (just like WeChat in China or Kakao in South Korea), the uncertainty about the future of the platform keeps growing. If Twitter fails to reassure its users and regain their trust, Meta’s app Threads will get the upperhand.
Admittely, the launch of Threads feels a bit rushed. But from a strategic perspective, it makes a lot of sense to position Threads as a readily available, safer, easy-to-use alternative to Twitter, Mastodon and Bluesky. Obviously, the launch of Threads was no coincidence – it puts Meta in a really good position to take over the Microblogging market and position its app as the new global town square. While Threads right now has no monetization yet, it could be an attractive alternative for advertisers in the future with Meta’s established set of advertising products, in-depth targeting data and brand-safety standards.