The Ego Wars: Musk vs. Zuckerberg over Threads' meteoric rise
Examining Threads' potential challenges and controversies in light of its exceptional growth
Five days – that's all it took for Threads to reach 100 million users. For Facebook and Twitter, born almost two decades ago, it took about five years. Instagram, at 12 years old, reached this number in just two and a half years. Threads, the social network launched by Meta last Wednesday as a hybrid of two other giants, surpassed them all. While it undoubtedly benefited from Instagram's user base and the deteriorating situation on Twitter, achieving such growth is still a significant accomplishment.
Elon Musk, who last year acquired Twitter for a whopping $44 billion, couldn't resist commenting on the situation. In his typical fashion, he took to Twitter, stating, "Threads is just Instagram without photos, which doesn’t make sense, given that photos are the main reason people use this app.” In response to a screenshot of Zuckerberg's Threads thread, Musk wrote, "Zuck is a cuck." Clearly, he is not holding back his opinions.
Musk has valid reasons to feel stressed about Threads' success. Apart from the unprecedented surge in users, the platform is also attracting celebrities, influencers, and brands, which means it's here to stay. These high-profile users provide the lifeblood for the social network, constantly generating content and fostering interactions that keep the platform thriving. With its algorithmic feed inspired by TikTok's successful approach, Threads has the potential to become a lasting mainstream success.
Although some users migrated to Threads from Twitter, Musk is aware that the real threat lies elsewhere. Threads could hinder Twitter's efforts to grow and steal a critical asset from it – advertising budgets. While Threads does not yet include ads, Meta can offer advertisers a unique package deal that combines advertising on its two other successful platforms, Facebook and Instagram, along with highly targeted ads on Threads based on user profiles from those networks. Twitter's advertising capabilities have long been weaker than Meta's, and Threads' allure to advertisers could be another blow to Twitter's already struggling ad revenue.
However, this power struggle doesn't exist in isolation. Since Musk took control of Twitter, the platform has seen several changes that have alienated users. Significant layoffs among employees, an algorithmic feed, lax content monitoring leading to an increase in hate and harmful content, and controversial moves like unblocking toxic users and returning Donald Trump to the platform, have all contributed to a growing dissatisfaction among users.
On the other hand, Threads also faces its fair share of potential problems. Although some users turned to Threads to escape Twitter's troubles, they must not forget that Meta, the company behind the new app, has a dubious track record. Facebook, under Meta, has continuously violated user privacy and facilitated malicious use, contributing to serious real-world consequences, such as the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar and the January 6 Capitol attack in the United States.
Moreover, Threads doesn't bring any groundbreaking innovations to the table. Rather than disrupting the existing social media landscape, it merely imitates existing concepts. Being part of the industry's biggest corporation, Threads aims to relocate users to another platform without offering anything substantially new or revolutionary.
Musk's frustration is not solely a reaction to a business rivalry but rather a display of ego wars between two billionaires who have amassed unimaginable wealth. It's a struggle that doesn't necessarily serve the interests of ordinary users, who find themselves entrapped in the parallel worlds these tech giants created. These platforms have a long history of compromising privacy, spreading fake news, and inciting harmful behavior – all in the pursuit of profits.
In the end, should we really care about how these billionaires divide their users? It's time to consider the bigger picture and the impact their actions have on society as a whole.