Musk and Zuckerberg Go To War Over “Twitter-killer” App Threads
Mark Zuckerberg’s much awaited Twitter competitor Threads is expected to launch on July 7 AEST in what looms as a billionaires’ showdown with Elon Musk.
Musk is regarded to have botched Twitter in his short time at the helm and Zuckerberg is circling like a shark towards blood.
When he took over Twitter in April 2022, Musk promised to get rid of bot users and said Twitter would offer the “most accurate source of information about the world”.
He reinstated Donald Trump’s Twitter account, saying “the people have spoken”, and changed the Blue Tick that signified a trusted user and a reliable source of information into a commodity available to “super followers” who could buy the tick for as little as $US2.99 monthly.
Under his leadership, Twitter moved further away from a once respected source of breaking news and varied opinion and still peddled conspiracy theories, hate speech, harmful content and misinformation.
Musk’s promise to crack down on hate speech and misinformation, and to be fair, proved ineffective, which was little surprise given that he fired most of Twitter’s 1500-strong moderation team, targeting workers both within the company and on contract. Much of Twitter’s workforce was out the door when he fired them by email in November last year.
The Blue Tick stamp of approval reached farcical proportions when in January, members of the Taliban purchased Blue Ticks although they were soon taken down.
Crucially, Musk lost the support of Twitter’s advertisers. Market research firm Insider Intelligence says it expects Twitter to bring in $US2.98 billion in advertising revenue in 2023, a 28 percent drop compared to $4.14 billion in 2022.
Principal analyst Jasmine Enberg said advertisers didn’t trust Musk. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be more controversial and damaging to Twitter’s ad business than Elon Musk,” she wrote on LinkedIn. “At Insider Intelligence, we predicted in March that Twitter’s ad revenues would plummet by 27.9 per cent this year, erasing all of the growth its ad business gained during the pandemic.”
All of this is music to the ears of rival billionaire Mark Zuckerberg who has been wanting to launch a Twitter alternative for a long time.
Zuckerberg will be hoping to mop up the advertising revenue that Musk lost, although that will be a tall order, given the number of social networks available already. Many users are suffering social network fatigue and don’t have room for another outlet. Cashed-up, professional people who once used Twitter, long ago began putting their efforts into Microsoft’s LinkedIn. They offer a better audience for advertisers.
Twitter has a smaller audience compared to Facebook and Instagram, nevertheless Zuckerberg will be looking to the advertising revenue gained from new users as well as the migration of Instagram users to Threads and visa versa, but this looms as a personal battle too.
The Threads microblogging app itself has already been loaded into the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, with the US July 6 date listed as the expected launch date.
Interestingly, Zuckerberg is aligning Threads with Instagram rather than Meta as a whole, listing it in the app stores as “an Instagram app”, teasing it within Instagram with a ticket that invites you to the launch, and enticing you to join Threads with a QR code link. It sets the exact launch time as July 6, 10am eastern US time, which is 2am on July 7 AEST.
Whether Threads is an exact duplicate of the Twitter social media style or operates differently remains to be seen. The Threads app listing only describes it as being “where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow”.
“Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favourite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.”
Musk does have Twitter founder Jack Dorsey on his side. Dorsey has homed in on the troves of personal data already collected by Instagram and the added private and personal data that Threads will rake in for Meta.