Threads, from Meta, is likely to succeed where other Twitter wannabes will not, and where Elon Musk has failed.

July 6, 2023
Posted by: Peter Friedman, Founder, Chairman & CEO

Elon Musk’s chaotic reign of Twitter, from a breaking system to erratic policies, to layoffs and fees with total indifference to the impact on people, users, brands, and partners has left the door wide open for another company to take over the lead in the text comment – micro-blogging space. Likely pushing Twitter aside and expediting its total downfall (initiated by Musk, now accelerated by Threads). Twitter users and advertisers are fleeing the service in droves every time Musk pulls another policy, feature, system, or declarative stunt.

Several companies like Mastodon, Post, and BlueSky have entered the fray. But these all have approaches and issues that suggest they can’t take on the appeal to a mass of users and attractiveness to advertisers that characterize the multi-hundred million and multi-billion user nature of the large social networks. Let alone gain some combination of advertiser and or subscription revenue to be a big-money success.

This week a big player, Meta the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Oculus, has launched Threads. A Twitter-like service that looks promising on all dimensions. Threads is built on top of Instagram’s infrastructure, rules, and registered user base but presents itself to its users as a separate app and social network service.

Instant scale. By leveraging and building Threads on top of Instagram, the new service achieves instant scale in three ways:
1. 2 billion Instagram registered users at the door. To sign up, all one has to do is check a box and Threads uses your Instagram account to register and sign you in.

2. Individual follower count. Say the word and the system lets you automatically follow everyone you follow on Instagram. This means many of your followers will follow you as soon as they sign up. My new follower alert chime has not stopped ringing since I signed on.

3. Meta’s massive technical systems infrastructure enables volume scale and stability.

User friendly. Threads is easy to use and find your way around. Very much like Twitter and will be familiar to all those users looking for an alternative.

Several of the Twitter wannabes are so busy being excited about creating a product that spreads out over many distributed servers with multiple people managing the entry doors and where one can and does go that they’ve created services that most people will find too complex to use. Sure, they can get a few hundred thousand early adopters. They might even get a few million of the digirati (Internet and media insiders, and high enthusiasts), especially those anxious to flee Twitter. Some might get as far as 10-20 million users. Which isn’t necessarily bad for a niche business. But 100 Million? Over 200 million active users like Twitter? Upwards of 800 Million to 3 Billion like the major players? Not likely.

User scale matters if you want to take over the world with appeal to masses of consumers who want to go to where the most people are. Same for paying advertisers. Even Twitter, with 400 Million registered users and over 200 million daily active users, to get critical mass revenue and be profitable. That was before Musk came around and made it even worse.

Ecosystem leverage. Several other key success factors are yet to come into play on Threads and are very likely to happen. They are all part of what can be called ecosystem leverage. The world

of Meta, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc. and Threads, all comprise one large ecosystem. Technology architecture, systems operations, software, and APIs for third-party companies to build apps and tools. Increasingly Meta has been making multiple capabilities work across all of its social networks. We can expect no less for Threads.

Effective moderation technology and rules. A well-moderated environment is critical for the service to appeal to hundreds of millions of users. People don’t like being around unbridled hate speech and harassment. With mass users and billions of daily user content posts, all social networks struggle with this. Elon Musk abdicated responsibility on moderation by gutting the moderator workforce and allowing all manner of unsavory content in the name of free speech. Most users don’t like that.  Advertisers abhor it and many have withdrawn from Twitter for this reason alone. The new wannabe Twitter services at least want a reasonable and moderated environment and have guidelines to that effect. But their implementations are weak. Some of these networks’ spread-out distributed service model makes it hard to manage and remove problem content. Some rely just on content warning labels. That only goes so far, and it’s not far enough for a mass of user, or to satisfy the needs of advertisers.

As of Thread’s first day, we can’t quite tell the moderation story yet. But it sure seems it will be the same as Instagram, which is pretty good. Threads uses Instagram’s Community Guidelines on content and interactions on day one. Even when a user sets bad word filters, they work simultaneously across Threads and Instagram. The terms of service look to be the same. Since Threads is built on top of Instagram’s technology infrastructure, it only makes sense that the same moderation tools are or will soon be available. As well as APIs for third-party moderation tools.

Advertiser tools by which brands can run campaigns, target audiences, re-target audiences, create look-alike audiences, and track and report results. For years, one of Meta’s strongest market advantages has been being the leader in these critical tools for advertisers. With Threads built on the Instagram infrastructure, it only makes sense that advertisers will have the same tools and capabilities. Meta today offers an advertisers’ dashboard that enables them to run and optimize ad campaigns across Facebook and Instagram. We’ll likely see that change to Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.

APIs for third-party apps and tools. There is today an entire universe of third-party tools and apps for Meta’s social networks. Look for these types of APIs on Threads. It’s even possible that the existing tools and apps for the rest of Meta’s networks will soon just work with Threads.

Meta cross-platform (social network) direct messaging (private messaging). Most social networks, including Twitter, have some form of private messaging between users, which is also usable for brands and users to communicate directly. A few years ago, Meta began the process of integrating the private messaging of Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Ultimately users on any of these services will be able to direct message each other across the networks. On first release, Threads doesn’t have any direct messaging. Just the cryptic comment, “We will add features users tell us they want.”  How long will it be until Threads joins the Meta family of cross-network messaging? We expect not very long at all.

Out the door Threads looks to be a well-featured, user-friendly, and advertiser-friendly service that operates stably as a system and with stable management. Capable of scaling to large volume, meaning tens of millions, then hundreds of millions of users, fully leveraging the Meta ecosystem of billions of users, systems infrastructure, and multiple inter-operating social networks.

The other Twitter wannabes don’t have all that. Twitter doesn’t have all that. Threads does.


Meta reports that in its first 7 hours, Threads grew to 10 Million users.   That’s probably more than all the other Twitter wannabes put together.  Marc Zuckerberg has now talked about growing to a 1 billion user base.


The author, Peter Friedman, is the founder and CEO of LiveWorld, the longest standing social media related company in the world and with the most years of content moderation experience. With a combination of human moderators, technology platforms, and digital agency services, for over 27 years LiveWorld has provided hundreds of programs to F500 brands in healthcare, financial services, CPG, auto, entertainment, and Internet categories. Prior to founding LiveWorld, Mr. Friedman was Vice President and General Manager of Apple’s Internet services division including its moderated online communities