Meta’s new social media app Threads has become the fastest-growing app over the past decade, attracting millions of users shortly after its public release.
The app, which is aimed as a rival to Elon Musk’s Twitter, amassed 2 million downloads within two hours. That figure surged to 5 million within the first four hours, and 10 million in the first seven hours.
In a Friday Threads post, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the app has attracted 70 million users within just two days of its launch, claiming that this milestone far exceeds his expectations for the new platform.
Threads has also drawn some popular figures like Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, Shakira, and Oprah Winfrey, each of which has millions of followers across Twitter.
The app is now on track to acquire over 100 million users within two months, outpacing even the highly successful AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT.
“This is as good of a start as we could have hoped for!” Mr. Zuckerberg, whose company owns Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp, said in a post on Threads on Thursday. He later added, “Feels like the beginning of something special.”
Launched on Wednesday, Threads is a new text-based social media app deeply intertwined with Instagram.
It acts as a standalone app linked to Instagram, allowing users to port over their accounts to the new platform, log in with their existing Instagram credentials, and maintain their handle and verification status.
Resembling the familiar look of Twitter, Threads allows users to post text and links, respond to or repost messages, and importantly, port over their existing follower lists and account names from Instagram, which boasts over 2 billion users.
The app has already claimed the top spot among free apps on Apple’s App Store in the US, which shows its growing popularity.
Twitter Threatens to Sue Meta Over Trade Secrets
Threads’ remarkable growth has attracted the ire of Twitter, which has accused Meta of appropriating its trade secrets.
In a letter dated Wednesday, Twitter lawyer Alex Spiro suggested that the company aims to pursue legal action.
The company accused Meta of using trade secrets from its former employees to build Threads, alleging that it hired numerous ex-Twitter employees who had access to confidential information and trade secrets.
“With that knowledge, Meta deliberately assigned these employees to develop, in a matter of months, Meta’s copycat ‘Threads’ app with the specific intent that they use Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property in order to accelerate the development of Meta’s competing app, in violation of both state and federal law as well as those employees’ ongoing obligations to Twitter,” Spiro wrote in the letter, adding:
“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information.”
Competition is fine, cheating is not
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2023
However, Meta’s communications director, Andy Stone, has denied allegations that the company used former Twitter engineers on the Threads team.
Zuckerberg has also slammed Twitter’s strategy, describing Musk’s social media platform as unfriendly.
“It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it,” Zuckerberg wrote when asked on Threads whether the app will be “bigger than Twitter.”
“The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success,” he wrote. “That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently.”
The EU Bans Threads Amid Privacy Concerns
According to mandatory disclosures required on iOS, Threads may collect highly sensitive user information to create detailed profiles of individuals’ digital activities.
This includes health and financial data, precise location, browsing history, contacts, search history, and other sensitive information, which has raised privacy concerns among some users.
In fact, for this reason, the Irish regulator, the Data Protection Commission (DPC), has stated that the new service will not be rolled out in the EU.
The app users have also encountered some other challenges since its launch.
One of the primary issues faced by users is the lack of a desktop version. Many individuals rely on desktop access to scroll through social media while at work or to give their eyes a break from constantly staring at their phones.
Another point of contention is the app’s feed. Users familiar with Twitter’s algorithmic “For You” tab, which often presents clickbait and viral content, are disappointed by Threads’ inability to provide options to view posts exclusively from accounts they follow or in chronological order.
There have also been concerns regarding accessibility features for users with disabilities.
“Threads was shipped without basic accessibility functions like an alt text field or an in-app captioning tool,” Alexa Heinrich said on Twitter.
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