When Will Threads Become a True “X” Replacement?
While several competitors have stepped up to fill the void left by Twitter, now “X,” since Elon Musk purchased the platform in the fall of 2022 and began making radical changes. But while Mastodon and BlueSky made waves around that time, the surprise drop of Threads in July was welcome news to many still looking for that Twitter-like magic. Threads is owned by Meta and, for all intents and purposes, looks and feels more like Twitter than anything else. However, it still has some issues – some small, like the lack of lists, but some big, like poor search functionality and low adoption rate.
Threads has some distance to go when it comes to search functionality. It only recently started using hashtags, and they look slightly different than they do across other platforms, although in my opinion they look cleaner. You create a hashtag by typing in the “#” sign like you would anywhere else, but you can add spaces to tags and the “#” itself does not appear. But Twitter, with its advanced search and years of back content, is still tough to compete with when it comes to searching topics or for getting breaking news updates.
Plus, Threads has faced criticism for blocking certain “controversial” search terms in an attempt to reduce misinformation. However, this has had the added effect of making it difficult for users to get information about their local case numbers or hospitalizations due to the blocking of terms like “vaccine” and “Covid.”
Another thing about Threads’ search capabilities: if you see a post of Threads and try to find it again, but don’t remember the account it came from, that can be difficult to do.
Twitter’s list functionality has long been one of my favorite features of the platform, and yet no other social media site has it. For FGIA, I keep a list of industry media accounts so I can quickly scan headlines. Personally, I used to keep a list of newspaper and magazine editors’ accounts so I could see what topics those editors were looking for and commissioning articles about. It is my hope that Threads will soon build their own version of this tool.
When Threads launched, people signed up through a link in their existing Instagram accounts and were able to automatically follow all Instagram users they followed who had also joined Threads. While Threads made it easy to convert Instagram users and got a huge boost of immediate users right away, overall adoption is low, comparatively.
There are 160 million users on Threads as of the end of 2023, while more than half a billion (monthly) users are still over on Twitter, despite its mass exodus since late 2022. What made Twitter fun was the variety at the cocktail party! Now, when I open Threads, I feel like I am seeing posts from the same handful of accounts. FGIA’s Threads account is not yet followed by many of our members, unlike our other platforms.
While no platform can yet replace Twitter, I maintain that Threads is its likeliest successor. I am willing to give it time to grow and put in the time with it to help it become a better platform. Let’s check back in on Threads in a few months and see how things are going!