Owned by Meta and launched this month, Threads has quickly become the fastest-growing app in history. The arrival of what is being referred to as a clone app is making people question whether Threads is the new Twitter.
Since Elon Musk purchased Twitter Inc. last year, there have been undeniable technical glitches and concerns surrounding content moderation, and of course, controversy about his declared free speech absolutism.
It has been speculated that billionaire and Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg launched Threads to compete directly with Twitter. Musk has certainly reacted to this competition by launching new features and continuing his efforts at making Twitter the platform for free speech. With all of these changes in mind, the more appropriate question could be whether Twitter’s future is actually under threat at all.
WHY TWITTER WILL SURVIVE
Twitter is finding itself battling a new social media competitor, Threads. However, Musk has already put up quite a fight by launching several new features that are sure to encourage people to continue using the platform.
CREATING A PLATFORM FOR FREE SPEECH
When Musk purchased Twitter Inc., he set out to reinvent the social network by making it the platform for free speech across the globe. One of Twitter’s core values is defending and respecting the user’s voice. This value is honored by a two-part comment on both privacy but also freedom of expression.
While some experts worry this will increase hate speech on the social network, others argue it could inspire different viewpoints, especially from those with more extremist views. For example, he brought back three high-profile accounts that had been suspended for breaking the platform’s rules. These included the conservative satire site Babylon Bee, comedian Kathy Griffin, and academic Jordan Peterson. He also lifted former President Donald Trump’s ban.
TWITTER SUBSCRIPTION MODEL
Twitter remains free of charge. However, Musk has introduced a means for users with high followings to add additional value for their fans through bonus content. This is nothing new; we’ve seen it before on YouTube where content creators send their audience to their Patreon for exclusive content. The unique difference here is that followers do not even have to leave the app.
Users who purchase a subscription receive bonus content from their favorite creators. This extra content includes exclusive tweets, access to subscriber-only spaces, a subscriber badge, a subscription tweets tab, and being notified of exclusive tweets. Each subscription counts as a separate purchase of $8 per month (Twitter Blue).
THE ABILITY TO PUBLISH LONG-FORM CONTENT
Twitter has also begun to allow users to publish long-form content using its ‘Notes’ feature. Additionally, Twitter Blue subscribers can post long-form video content. A prime example is when The NFL signed a two-year deal with Twitter to bring more pro football highlights to the platform.
Part of the deal included publishing a 30-minute live digital show airing on Twitter five nights per week during football season. The ability to publish this long-form content on the social media platform means Twitter is challenging not only other social media platforms but traditional media such as television too.
For instance, Democratic Candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr has struggled to get as much airtime as other candidates. He has been a guest on several conservative-positioned podcasts. It is for this reason that he has been utilizing the power of Twitter to promote himself and speak on topics that are important to him. Robert F. Kennedy Jr is not the only one using Twitter as a ‘make-shift media outlet’. By doing this, he can speak directly to an audience of 1.9 million.
It’s not only politicians utilizing Twitter to share their voices and opinions. Recently, an interview between Tucker Carlson, American Commentator and Andrew Tate, controversial kickboxer-turned-social media “influencer”, went live on the platform. Tucker Carlson has decamped to Twitter since being fired by Fox News, and to date, this video received over 92 million views.
TWITTER BECOMES A REVENUE SOURCE FOR CONTENT CREATORS
As of recently, Twitter has also begun paying content creators for a share of the ad revenue earned from ads served in the replies to their posts. Those users who subscribe to Twitter Blue and have garnered over 5 million tweet impressions per month for the last three months are eligible to join.
Musk has said the first round of creator payouts will equate to $5 million and will be cumulative from February onward. Some bigger content creators have already spoken in favor of this move on the app, stating that the payouts are substantial. Writer Brian Krassenstein, who has roughly 750,000 followers, tweeted that Twitter paid him $24,305. This not only helps content creators earn for their contributions but also inspires conversation and engagement among their communities.
THE ARRIVAL OF THREADS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MUSK
While the concerns around whether or not Threads will replace Twitter are valid, Musk has already challenged this by introducing new features that improve the app and value users and content creators alike. It is clear he is creating a value system based on education, content, experience, and utility. It is important that he continues to make these improvements and focuses on driving inclusivity on the platform.
Although some Journalists have prioritized political agenda over free speech, Twitter can enhance information sharing due to covering newsworthy events from many angles and uniquely delivering them.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and Musk is ensuring speech is not limited on the app. As Justice Louis D. Brandeis shared in the Whitney v. California (1927) Supreme Court decision, “More speech, not enforced silence.” Mr. Brandeis added: “If there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” Without a diverse set of opinions and thoughts, people cannot progress. Sharing ideas is important even if certain people do not like them. It is this exposure to different ways of thinking and perspectives that will encourage people to become more tolerant.
Additionally, usage of Threads has already fallen drastically, and meanwhile, Twitter’s metrics have remained virtually unchanged. One potential reason could be due to the fact that the narrative broadcasts only one side. Added to that is the arrival of the new features, which are currently more enticing for users, and will continue to expand. Musk’s vision for Twitter is built on making the platform a forum for free speech, expression, and debate, which is what users allegedly prefer.
Marc Beckman is the CEO of DMA United, a NYC-based advertising agency. Beckman’s clients include Pepsi, Sony Music, Warner Bros Entertainment, Karl Lagerfeld, NBA, and Nelson Mandela. Mr. Beckman is the author of the bestselling book, The Comprehensive Guide: NFTs, Digital Artwork, Blockchain Technology, and serves as New York University’s Senior Fellow Metaverse. Mr. Beckman sits on the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets.