Meta’s Threads is planning a web launch sometime this week

Meta’s social network Threads is a direct competitor to X, formerly known as Twitter.

Meta’s Threads is planning a web launch sometime this week
Meta's Threads app logo is seen in this illustration taken July 4, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The backstory: Meta’s social network Threads is a direct competitor to X, formerly known as Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg's answer to X launched on July 5 and quickly gained steam, with over 100 million users signing up in the first week. That even outpaced OpenAI's hugely successful launch of ChatGPT, which saw the chatbot hit 100 million monthly users in just two months.

One reason for Threads’ initial success is its connection to its sister platform Instagram. Threads can access all of those existing IG users, and signup is easy – just input your IG login details, and you can even import your data to follow all the same accounts on your new Threads profile.  

More recently: Threads’ meteoric success in the first week was short-lived, as data showed that the week after its launch, the platform had lost around half of its daily active users. But Zuck still seemed optimistic about its future potential, saying the drop off was “normal” and more user retention would come as the company added attractive features, like web and search functionality.

One reason so many people consider Threads a contender to X is the fact that a lot of people simply don’t like Elon Musk or what he’s been doing with the platform since he bought it last year. Aside from getting rid of the iconic bluebird logo and rebranding it from Twitter to X, Musk changed the verification process for accounts with blue checks into a subscription-based model, limited the number of posts users can read per day and recently got rid of the block feature, among other moves. One of the first big changes he made was to its content moderation policies, which led to a spike in hate speech on the platform and drove a bunch of advertisers away. X’s ad revenue still hasn’t recovered from that hiccup.

On Saturday, Musk even seemed to acknowledge X’s troubles, saying, “We may fail, as so many have predicted…” after commenting that there just aren’t any really great social media networks out there at the moment. This came after a glitch on X removed a ton of pics and links on posts made before December 2014. Last month, Musk said the company still had a negative cash flow and heavy debt due to losing more than half its ad revenue.  

The development: On Friday, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said the company had been internally testing a web version of Threads, which could be released as early as this week. As of now, users can’t access all of the app’s functions on a computer and have to rely on smartphones to use all its features. A web version of Threads could make the platform more useful to bigger users like company accounts, journalists and advertisers, giving it an edge over X – if people actually migrate over and decide to use it.

Other updates to the app have already been rolled out, like a chronological feed and post notifications. Plus, some users are even requesting certain features to be added, like light and dark modes (which X has already) and scheduling capabilities. Meta has said it’s currently working on improving the platform’s search capabilities.  

Key comments:

"We've been using an early version internally for a week or two," Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a Threads comment. "Still needs some work before we can open it up to everyone though…"

“Meta only needs 1 in 4 Instagram users to use Threads monthly for it to be as big as Twitter,” Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, said in a statement.

“Obviously, if you have more than 100 million people sign up, ideally it would be awesome if all of them or even half of them stuck around,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on an employee call last month, adding: “We’re not there yet.”

“These early returns signal that despite the hoopla during its launch, it will still be an uphill climb for Threads to carve out space in most users’ social network routine,” Anthony Bartolacci, managing director at Sensor Tower, a marketing intelligence firm, told CNBC. “The backing of Meta and the integration with Instagram likely gives Threads a much higher flood than other services, but it will need a more compelling value proposition than simply ‘Twitter, but without Elon Musk.’”