By Jack Phillips
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Instagram Threads, which some say could rival Elon Musk’s Twitter, has seen a drop-off in users and engagements in recent days after a relatively strong showing in early July, according to analytics companies.
“The Threads launch really did ‘break the internet,’ or at least the Sensor Tower models,” Anthony Bartolacci, the managing director at Sensor Tower, a marketing intelligence firm, told CNBC.
Bartolacci added that “in the 10-plus years Sensor Tower has been estimating app installs, the first 72 hours of Threads was truly in a class by itself.”
In a statement, Mr. Zuckerberg said on July 10 that Threads was able to obtain about 100 million users in about a week. “That’s mostly organic demand, and we haven’t even turned on many promotions yet,” the Facebook founder said in a Threads post.
At the same time, Matthew Prince, CEO of internet infrastructure firm Cloudflare, shared a graph showing a similar trajectory in a tweet on July 10 and claimed Twitter’s traffic was “tanking.” But Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino wrote Monday that the platform last week had its “largest usage day” since February. “There’s only ONE Twitter,” she tweeted.
However, since Threads—billed by some legacy news outlets as a “Twitter killer”—launched on July 5, there has been a serious drop in user engagement, according to Sensor Tower.
For example, according to Sensor Tower, on Tuesday and Wednesday, Threads’ number of daily active users was down 20 percent from Saturday. More seriously, the time spent by a user was down 50 percent, from 20 minutes to 10 minutes in that same time period, the company told CNBC.
“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,” Mr. Bartolacci said. “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.’”
New data from SimilarWeb, another analytics firm that measures web traffic, also showed a decline of more than 25 percent in daily active users between July 7, when it peaked, and Monday, July 10. That accounted for Threads users on Android phones worldwide, the company told CNBC, adding that it has not produced data for iOS devices.
“While there was intense interest in checking out the app initially, not every user has made a habit of visiting Threads as often as they might other social apps,” David Carr, senior insights manager at Similarweb, told the business news website.
In response to the dropoff in engagement and users, a spokesperson for parent company Meta Platforms told news outlets that the app is in its “early days” and that the company is “excited about the initial success of Threads.”
“We launched the app just over a week ago, and our focus now is on ensuring stable performance, delivering new features and continuing to improve the experience in the coming months,” the spokesperson said.
The Epoch Times has contacted Meta Platforms for comment Friday.
When his platform was launched earlier this month, Mr. Zuckerberg suggested that Threads could be more successful 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 said.
“That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently,” he said earlier this month.
Although Threads appears to be an attempt to capitalize on some Twitter users’ negative sentiment against Mr. Musk over his political views, there have been reports of shadowbanning and algorithmic downgrading of some content and users. And some prominent social media executives, including former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, suggested that Threads is harvesting users’ data.
“Within a few hours of launching, Threads was already secretly censoring users and not offering them the right to appeal,” journalist Michael Shellenberger, who published a series of “Twitter files” reports about the company’s previous management, wrote on his Substack page.
Because of its ownership of Facebook and Instagram, “Meta is already too powerful,” he argued. “One company controls what much of the public is allowed to see. And if Threads succeeds, it will have 80 percent of the global market outside of Russia and China.”
“As such, it’s reasonable to expect that Meta will censor precisely the same way the large news media corporations, including the New York Times, and corporate advertisers want it to. More censorship is what the mainstream news media, big corporations, and their celebrity pitch people have been demanding,” Mr. Shellenberger argued.
His post also noted that Threads collects user data on “health and fitness,” financial information, “sensitive info,” and “other data.”
Some other prominent Twitter users also complained that they were being censored on Threads after making only a few posts.
“Just downloaded and signed up for the new Meta app ‘Threads’ meant to imitate Twitter I posted once about wanting to expose Biden’s corrupt government and they’ve already flagged me for censorship,” one wrote. “Great platform Zuck.”