Threads Had Big Launch Energy. Twitter Is Under Pressure.

Like guests arriving at a destination wedding, users joining Meta Platforms Inc.’s new Threads app on Wednesday night likely found familiar faces in unfamiliar surroundings. “Hey, you made it!” … “Jeff got in an hour ago!” … “Have you met Mary? You’ve probably got friends in common...”

Eventually, someone might be brave enough to quietly mutter: “So… do you think it’ll last?”

The dopamine was flowing, that’s for sure. Meta brought forward the launch of its “Twitter killer” to capitalize on the Elon Musk-owned app’s recent woes, delivering a masterclass in onboarding. Using its existing knowledge of connections made between people on Instagram, the company populated feeds on Threads with accounts users already knew, and others they would perhaps like to. The ding-ding-ding of notifications began almost immediately.

Meta’s approach meant users leapfrogged the disorienting “now what?” moment that has blighted the sign-up process on other Twitter clones. That alone makes Threads a larger threat to Twitter than anything else we’ve seen so far. Within two hours, according to Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg, two million people had joined. Within seven hours of the launch, it was 10 million.

Zuckerberg, clearly relishing the sense he was rescuing Twitter users from the Musk regime, posted his first tweet in more than a decade, poking fun at taking on Twitter at its own game. In all, it may well have been the first day of sincerely positive PR Zuckerberg has enjoyed since 2018’s Cambridge Analytica scandal left his company’s reputation in tatters.

But signups are one thing, staying power is another. The hype around Threads will carry it for the near future, particularly as it gradually becomes more widely available (Meta has held the app back in European markets to ensure regulatory compliance.) Beyond that, things get much more difficult. Twitter is still a long way from being replaced, given there are many reasons it could still be considered the superior platform.