If you've been searching for tweets that link to Threads, chances are you’re not going to find them. This week the platform was recently discovered to be “selectively blocking” the content, meaning those looking to locate a user’s Threads profile or surface a conversation will find it impossible.
The speculated aim of this move seems to be in response to Twitter’s declining user numbers. While Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino has celebrated the platform’s recent boom in traffic, reports elsewhere show it actually declined by 5% during Threads' first 2 days.
In comparison, the Meta rival has topped 100 million users in 5 days, topping ChatGPT’s record for taking two months to reach that scale.
When Did Twitter Start “Selectively Blocking” Searches?
While it’s not known exactly when this block came into effect, it was discovered and reported on Monday 10 July by technologist and blogger Andy Baio.
In a Threads post he explained that he’d tried to undertake a search on Twitter using “url:threads.net” but it shared no results. This is in comparison to a typical search using the operator “url:” which usually would have usually pulled in any tweets linking to a specific website.
A simpler search without “url:” will return tweets that include threads.net or Threads usernames, but not direct discussions.
This Isn't Twitter's First Time At The Block Button
When it comes to blocking other platforms and websites from its searches, Twitter has form. When Substack launched its Twitter-feed style Substack Notes feature, the platform began censoring those links too. This resulted in users not being able to reply to, like or retweet any posts that simply mentioned “substack”.
Musk defended these restrictions by claiming that Substack was trying to capitalize on Twitter’s database to enhance their own platform.
The current block on Threads doesn’t do this, but at this point who knows what new restrictions are on the horizon.
Similar frustrating blocks have been felt, with Musk stopping huge amounts of third-party apps from using Twitter’s API by putting in a paywall.
The Twitter vs Meta Rivalry Rolls On
Despite this blocking controversy, Yaccarino this week announced a boom in traffic on the platform. The CEO stated it experienced its “largest usage day since February” in what could be considered a move to reassure advertisers who have been spooked about the platform’s robustness of late.
These comments also follow speculation and reports that Twitter traffic has tanked since Threads’ meteoric rise.
However, Yaccarino’s figures don’t tally up with the data seen by web analytics firm Similarweb. Cited by CNBC, Twitter’s web traffic was shown to have declined by 5% in the first 2 days that Threads was available for general use. Data also showed that web traffic was down 11% compared to the same time last year.
While the heated Twitter vs Threads rivalry continues to burn, with Meta seemingly coming out on top, it’s worth considering that this gain could simply be that typical user excitement for a new app.
The true test of Threads’ long-term future will be seen when the initial buzz of its launch has died down, and in Twitter’s ability to retain users and win back advertisers.