() — Twitter overcame months — if not years — of mismanagement, as well as mass layoffs, frequent service outages and an exodus of major advertisers. However, the launch of a rival app owned by Meta could be the last straw.
Threads surpassed 100 million users this weekend, less than a week after its launch, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Monday, marking an astounding feat for any social network and putting it on pace to rapidly surpass the size of Twitter’s audience. .
Meanwhile, several internet traffic analysts have reported notable declines in Twitter usage in recent days. The results highlight the risk Meta poses to Twitter’s business and raise questions about how, or if, Twitter will be able to stem its losses.
Twitter traffic had already been on a downward trend for months, according to data from Internet infrastructure company Cloudflare and web analytics company Similarweb. But the pace of the decline appears to have accelerated in recent days, both companies said, likely reflecting strong interest in Threads and a mass migration from the Elon Musk-owned platform to the one led by Zuckerberg.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This Sunday, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince shared a graph which shows the popularity of Twitter relative to other websites it tracks. “Twitter traffic is plummeting,” Prince said as he posted the chart.
The chart showed that in January Twitter was ranked 32nd on the list; the following month, it had fallen to 34th place. For much of the spring, Twitter fluctuated between 35th and 37th place. But the beginning of July saw a rapid decline in popularity, falling to 40th place. (Cloudflare defines popularity as the “size of a population of users searching for a domain per unit of time”).
Similarweb told on Monday that it has witnessed comparable trends in Twitter traffic.
“In the first two full days that Threads was generally available, the [último] Thursday and Friday, twitter.com web traffic decreased 5% compared to the same days last week and 11% compared to July 6-7, 2022,” said David Carr, Senior Insights Manager from Similar Web “We’ve been reporting for a while that Twitter is down compared to last year (June traffic is down 4%), but it looks like Threads is getting more out of it.”
The traffic reports were bolstered by the anecdotal experiences of some Threads users. Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, said Saturday that he conducted a “unscientific proof” of how the same post you shared on Twitter, Threads, and Mastodon, another rival, performed with your audience over a 23-hour period.
Identical content Stamos created on each platform had significantly higher engagement on Threads than on Twitter, as measured by the number of likes and responses, despite having only a fraction of its usual reach on the newer platform, he said.
Stamos, who has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter but only a tenth of that number on Threads, added that the engagement de Threads with his posts describing the “research” also supports the original findings. The quality of responses to his posts was also much higher on non-Twitter platforms, she noted.
“From my perspective, Twitter is finished as a platform for serious technology conversations,” said Stamos, who was previously Facebook’s chief security officer.
A rival to Twitter but not a replacement for Twitter
Meta has used Instagram as a springboard to sign up new users, fueling the rapid growth of Threads, adding to what many Threads users identified as dissatisfaction with Twitter.
Threads started with a series of celebrity accounts that prepopulated its platform, but has since gained additional high-profile users, including Kim Kardashian and Jeff Bezos. An account that had been banned on Twitter that tracks the movements of Musk’s private jet also joined the new platform.
More than 100 US lawmakers have also signed up, Axios reported last week, though few world leaders appear to be on Threads at the moment.
Zuckerberg and Instagram boss Adam Mosseri insisted that Threads is more than just a replacement for Twitter and that the app seeks to attract audiences outside of Twitter’s traditional user base. That means Threads will not actively elevate news or political content, Mosseri said, describing such topics as “not worth the scrutiny, negativity (let’s be honest) or the integrity risks that come with them.”
Over the weekend, Mosseri’s stance on news and politics sparked a debate about Threads’ approach to those issues. Some users praised it as a way to make the platform more accessible to average users, who may never have embraced Twitter before. Others argued that many of the topics that Mosseri characterized as non-political, including music, fashion and entertainment, are his own news feed and may be inherently political.
Although Meta execs are looking to put some distance between Threads and Twitter, Threads’ rapid rise only seems to have deepened Musk’s longstanding feud with Zuckerberg. The app’s launch drew threats of litigation, as Twitter accused Meta of stealing trade secrets, and that’s not to mention talk of a physical cage fight between Musk and Zuckerberg.
This Sunday, Musk — known for his erratic behavior and incendiary comments — made the subject even more personal when he hurled a sexual insult at Zuckerberg and proposed to compare the size of their respective genitals.
Zuckerberg did not directly respond to the insult. But after a Threads user pointed out that the new app wasn’t showing up on Twitter’s trending topics tab, Zuckerberg responded “worrying” with a laughing-crying emoji. And he used the same emoji to respond to a post by fast food brand Wendy’s, which suggested that Zuckerberg should “go to space just to really piss him off.”