Threads cements itself as the antithesis of Twitter as it hits 175 million users

The cover screen for the Instagram Threads social app on a Motorola Edge+ (2023)
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Meta's Threads reached 175 million users one year after it launched for the public.
  • The platform clearly competes with X (formerly Twitter) but takes a vastly different approach to the text-first social media app archetype.
  • However, Threads' success must be put in context — Meta isn't sharing daily user figures and is still heavily leveraging Instagram to grow the younger platform. 

About a year ago, it looked like Elon Musk was driving Twitter (now X) into the ground, and rumors swirled about Meta cooking up a competitor of its own. The company seemed to have rushed the release of Threads — a text-based social media app built on the back of Instagram — to capitalize on the uncertainty surrounding X. The plan appears to have worked: Threads hit 100 million users after being available for just five days last July.

Threads launched one year ago as of July 5, and it’s continuing to grow, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says. The platform has 175 million monthly active users, he revealed in a Thread (via The Verge).

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Meta’s history of creating or operating great social media platforms certainly helped get Threads off the ground. That’s even more true because Meta decided to make Instagram and Threads accounts one and the same. It pushed Instagram users—of which there are more than two billion globally—to give Threads a try. Instagram users started seeing suggested Threads in their Instagram notifications, a clear push from Meta to get people on the new platform.

This is a common strategy employed by social media platforms. By leveraging their existing user bases, these companies can skip the excruciating process of building up the first wave of site users. We’re seeing this again with TikTok. There’s a new TikTok Notes app beginning to roll out in limited testing phases for users in some countries. It’s an Instagram rival, and since TikTok is arguably the biggest social media platform on the planet right now, ByteDance is showing Notes teasers in the main TikTok.

Meta and Threads got a head start by leveraging the success of Instagram, but that shouldn’t discount how impressive the launch of Threads really was. It hit 100 million users in five days, which we’ve never seen before. If you recall, OpenAI’s ChatGPT app became the fastest-growing mobile app after it reached 100 million users in two months. Threads made one of the apps of the year (and perhaps the software of the decade) look like an amateur with its blistering launch. 

Twitter's new X branding spreads to its Play Store listing

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

After the launch of Threads, something interesting happened. Twitter — or X, if you like Musk’s new branding — didn’t die. Advertisers either pulled away from the platform or threatened to, and many came crawling back. Musk, either as the platform’s official CEO or now as its de-facto dictator, continued to make platform-breaking decisions. The verification system was completely destroyed, the X Premium subscriptions were prioritized, and likes were hidden. 

And yet, X looks just as alive as it ever has. Musk hasn’t shared official growth or active user figures for X, so we don’t know for sure how it’s doing. But we don’t really have to. X is still culturally relevant; it’s still the place people go for breaking news in tech or politics, and it’s still the “town square” of the internet. For example, when Sam Altman was fired from OpenAI, hired by Microsoft, and then re-hired by OpenAI, it all happened on X. Threads was barely part of the conversation, and it was just catching up with what had happened an hour earlier on X. 

For context, I’m not a huge fan of Musk or the changes he made to X. I don’t pay for X Premium, nor am I particularly happy about spending a ton of time on X. It’s still my most-used social media platform, both for work-related and personal reasons. X is where breaking news happens, and it’s also where the most interesting conversations happen. 

The cover screen for the Instagram Threads social app on a Motorola Edge+ (2023)

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Why is Threads still a thing?

So, if Threads has 175 million users, why isn’t it as lively as X? That might have something to do with Zuckerberg’s reporting of monthly active users. I check Threads at least once a month, usually only for a few minutes. A notification comes across my phone or appears on Instagram, so I see what it’s about. By comparison, I’m on X every single day. Daily active users dictate how vibrant a social media platform is, not monthly users. 

Threads’ early success gives me hope that it can build up the number of daily users on the platform, thus increasing its liveliness. To me, the fact that it added 75 million users after an early spurt is more impressive than the quick 100 million it started with last July. Prolonged growth is what social platforms need for long-term success. And when it comes to social networks, don’t bet against Meta.

The thing is, Threads isn’t trying to be Twitter. It doesn’t really want to be the hub for breaking news, controversy, or politics. Without sounding too reductive, Threads is looking for more wholesome content. When I go on Threads, I see cool desk setups, scenic views, and generally uplifting content. When I load up X, I want to pull my hair out due to the engagement bait, awful or misleading takes, and generally negative content on the platform. 

Maybe that’s why Threads is still growing. I may be addicted to using X, but it’s not a generally enjoyable experience. Threads, on the other hand, are mostly positive. People looking for the antithesis of X now have Threads, and 175 million users seem to like the difference in direction.

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.