Zuckerberg's Twitter clone engagement down 82% after initial launch

 August 5, 2023

Threads, the Zuckerberg alternative to Twitter, is already in trouble a month after its launch as its daily active users have plummeted from a high of 44 million last month to only 8 million this week. 

Meta's Twitter clone Threads launched last month amid shakeups at Twitter, now called X and quickly gained 100 million signups as disgruntled Twitter users looked for another way to communicate.

One of the biggest sticking points is the new Twitter/X restrictions on account activity that limit the number of DMs and tweets each account can have.

Intially, unverified accounts could only tweet 600 times a day, including retweets (new unverified accounts only 300), while verified/paid accounts could do 6,000 tweets.

Changing rules

Those limits quickly changed to 2,400 tweets per day, although limits were broken down further into hourly or semi-hourly limits.

The limits made Twitter unusable for many, at least as they had been used to using the platform.

Twitter/X said that the limits were imposed to "address extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation," presumably bots that could automatically post thousands of tweets in a very short period of time, but that Musk and most others feel add little value to the platform.

Surely Musk and his cohorts could figure out a better way to get rid of bots than to punish prolific human users of the platform, but they took the easy way out instead and Threads jumped in to capitalize on the discontent.

Zuckerberg content

Whether Zuckerberg will be able to turn the decline of the brand new platform around is anyone's guess.

He seems content with the platform's progress so far and said staff would be working on increasing engagement and retention.

“We saw unprecedented growth out of the gate and more importantly we’re seeing more people coming back daily than I’d expected," he said on an earnings call. "And now, we’re focused on retention and improving the basics. And then after that, we’ll focus on growing the community to the scale we think is possible.”

The platform is more basic than Twitter/X--it doesn't even have direct messages at this point--but Zuckerberg has promised upgrades and more features with time.

X rebranding and rebounding

The problem with any of these new platforms is, people's social media habits are deeply engrained and it takes a concerted effort to change the way users do things.

An intuitive and familiar-looking space may attract and hold onto users if "everyone" switches, but as Twitter has adjusted its limits and people have become disenchanted with Threads, Musk boasted in late July that his rebranded X platform is seeing its highest user numbers ever amid Threads's decline.

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