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Meta's Threads: A Catalyst For Competition in Micro-Blogging?
Thursday could be a big day in the world of digital media as Meta will release Threads, a microblogging app intended to be a direct competitor to Twitter. Although Threads won’t be available in every country initially – Bloomberg reported that it would not roll out in the EU at this time – Twitter’s self-imploding antics of the Elon Musk era and the failure of upstarts to capitalize on the situation should mean there is an opportunity for someone to capture significant consumer engagement and advertiser budgets from Twitter. But can Meta do it? I think it’s very plausible.
While trust in Meta as a protector of data may be poor and while there are many, many reasons to have antipathy towards the parent company for consumers and advertisers alike, if anyone could take an existing base of producers of content to catalyze usage of such a product, Meta is very well-positioned. I think it’s as simple as that: if an Instagram user with a large number of followers such as Kardashian or a Bieber or a Messi begins posting on Threads regularly, a new platform could quickly thrive, and I think new advertising budgets would follow in relatively short order.
Of course, it will be helpful if any product launch coincided with some kind of pledge from Meta to assure stakeholders that there will be active efforts to curtail the distribution of misinformation, especially in light of this week’s preliminary injunction which may prevent governmental entities from asking platforms to do the same in the United States. I’d argue that this presents a real opportunity for Meta (or anyone else) who credibly does the same, as consumers are more likely to use a platform they trust and advertisers are more likely to worry less about whether their sponsorships will be associated with problematic content.
I can imagine a world where Meta does this and sees meaningful growth as a result. It would occur at Twitter’s expense to some degree - capturing budgets Twitter hopes to reclaim from the large brands who left Twitter over the past year along with some of its existing pools of spending - but perhaps it’s possible that Twitter’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino would then be more empowered to rebuild Twitter without as much involvement from Musk. If that were to occur, this won’t necessarily be a zero-sum game: it’s very possible that a successful Threads could then lead to a vibrant and competitive sector for micro-blogging as a result.
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