The Downfall of Twitter, the Rise of Threads

Has a viable Twitter alternative finally arrived?

Anna Burgess Yang
ILLUMINATION
Published in
5 min readJul 10, 2023

--

A blue bird looking warily at a ladder
Image created via Midjourney

My phone vibrated in the early evening of July 5th. A notification: Threads were now available for download.

I’d heard that Meta was building a Twitter alternative a few months ago. At the time, the release date was unknown. Then I tripped across the news that Threads would be released on July 6th. I’ve never before requested notification of an app’s release, but I did with Threads. I immediately signed up with my Instagram account.

And I wasn’t alone: Threads has now crossed 100 million signups in the first four days of its existence. Of course, signups and active users are two entirely different things, but the excitement is there.

I’m sure many people, like me, have been eagerly awaiting a Twitter replacement.

A viable alternative to Twitter?

I left Twitter a few months ago. I didn’t deactivate my account, but I pinned a message to my profile that I’m no longer actively using the account — with a Canva image of links to my other online accounts.

The straw that broke my back was when Elon Musk began suppressing links to Substack, retaliation against Substack’s release of Substack Notes (a potential Twitter alternative). Though Musk’s war against Substack was brief, I saw the writing on the wall: Twitter would always be subjected to Musk’s irrational whims.

As a Substack writer, I tried Substack Notes, but it wasn’t the same. Bluesky temporarily halted signups to deal with performance issues. And Mastodon hasn’t gained steam, perhaps due to its confusing structure.

Based on the barebones features of Threads, I suspect that Meta was capitalizing on users’ frustration with Twitter. Days before, Musk announced daily limits on Tweet views: 600 posts per day for accounts not paying for Twitter Blue and 6,000 for Twitter Blue subscribers. The limits were later raised to 1,000 and 10,000 respectively, but the aggressive limitations likely ticked off the many, many non-Twitter Blue subscribers.

Was it an attempt to force more people to pay for Twitter Blue? Or maybe because Twitter hadn’t paid its Google Cloud bill? Musk’s…

--

--

Anna Burgess Yang
ILLUMINATION

Productivity geek + solopreneur. Niche freelance writer. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. • https://start.annabyang.com/