As Threads Hits 100 Million Users, Musk Ramps Up Rivalry

Threads now has over 100 million users and is the fastest growing app ever, even if it still lacks a distinctive identity

Threads, the new social conversations app from Mark Zuckerberg and Meta, has soared past the 100 million user mark less than a week after being released.

Rollout of Threads started on June 5 in the Americas and June 6 in the rest of the world, excluding most European countries where it has yet to be approved by EU regulators. Passing the 100 million milestone just five days after launch is no small feat for the platform, which has instantly been hailed as one of the best Twitter alternatives despite missing some key features in its current incarnation.

In fact, it makes Threads the fast-growing app ever according to the data. For reference, global sensation Pokémon Go is estimated to have topped 100 million installs about a month after its launch back in 2016, while ChatGPT took nearly two months to clear the same mark in more recent memory.

The Instagram Threads Story So Far

Shortly after its launch last week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on Threads with regular updates about the app's adoption. According to the Facebook and Instagram supremo, Threads got 2 million users in its first two hours; 5 million sign-ups in four hours; and had passed 10 million users in seven hours. After approximately a day, Zuckerberg estimated that more than 30 million people had signed up for the new social media platform.

Attracting that kind of traction is such a short period of time is a major achievement, albeit one that's made a little bit easier by the fact that “signing up” for Threads is largely a case of linking an existing Instagram account. It's not to say the launch of app has been all plain sailing, either, as already the Threads privacy policy is taking its fair share of heat.

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So too is  a slightly threadbare Threads feature set. Users have been as quick to point out Threads' shortcomings as they have to download it, including things like the lack of a web interface, no Following feed (and a misfiring algorithm instead only suggesting posts), and the absence of direct messaging functionality. None of that has stopped it being anointed the “Twitter Killer,” however, and further escalating the war of words between Meta CEO and his counterpart at Twitter, Elon Musk.

Zuckerberg vs Musk Just Won't Go Away

In many ways, Musk vs Zuckerberg needs no introduction. Most rivalries veering towards PPV fight infamy don't. Yet in the context of Threads and Twitter, there are some genuine points of intrigue. Shortly after the launch of Threads, Twitter bosses wrote to Meta and warned it against using “trade secrets” in the development of its new platform. Musk, of course, was more blunt in his outward appraisal of the situation, saying: “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”

Central to the cease-and-desist letter are accusations that ex-Twitter employees poached by Meta have brought various bits of intellectual property with them. It might be difficult to prove, given that the idea of text-based online discussion is almost as old as the internet itself, going back at least as far as the Usenet and BBS forums of yesteryear.

That hasn't stopped Musk from seeking to further escalate his public dispute with Zuckerberg. Over the weekend, the Tesla and SpaceX billionaire was characteristically active online, saying that Threads is “just Instagram minus the pics” before later tweeting: “Zuck is a cuck.” The latter snippet is being interpreted as an archaic attack on Zuckerberg's masculinity, as it potentially alludes to the medieval insult “cuckold.”

Threads Still Missing That Killer Feature

If Threads wants to kill off Twitter, its rapid adoption suggests it's well placed to do so. However, it's unlikely to render the rival platform null and void unless it brings something new to the party and can carve out an identity of its own, beyond being “Twitter before Twitter was ruined.” In other words, Musk isn't actually that wide of the mark: Threads is basically just another text-based social app, albeit one that promises more proactive community moderation and friendlier vibes as a result.

Its “killer feature,” if it has one at this early stage of its existence, is the promise of integration with the fediverse. What is the the fediverse, we hear you ask? The portmanteau of “federated” and “universe” is a relatively new concept that basically refers to a loose networks of decentralized servers sharing data with one and other.

In relation to social media, it basically means that not only will Threads let you share and interact with people across Meta's stable of apps, like Facebook and Instagram, but also third-party ones, with Mastodon being the first integration that has been mooted. This kind of distinctive feature is something that would not only convert disenfranchised Twitter users into Threaders, but also help win over the TikTok demographic – and the all-important advertising clout that comes with them.

Unfortunately, like much of Threads, it seems fediverse integration isn't quite catwalk ready at this stage.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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