Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla may have only one thing on his mind at the moment which is how to knock out Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, the company that has just released a copycat of Twitter, the social media platform he acquired through a hostile takeover.
Their much-anticipated cage fight is still expected later this year with the Italian government offering to stage the fight at the Rome Colosseum. However, Zuckerberg’s release of Threads, a Twitter copycat, has made things more personal and heightened expectations of a blood-thirsty match with Elon Musk.
Zuckerberg even teased Musk with his first tweet in 11 years, a few hours after Threads went live.
Threads, a text-based version of Instagram became the fastest social media – or any app at all – to hit its first one million users in less than an hour. The app later garnered 70 million users in less than 2 days as celebrities flock to the platform with millions of their users.
As expected Musk is having sleepless nights about Threads, and his Jiu-Jitsu-trained opponent, Zuckerberg. Musk, who completed the acquisition of Twitter in 2022 and has been battling through different policies to grow user revenue, has had many things to say about Threads since it launched. All of them are not flattering.
“Threads is just Instagram minus pics, which makes no sense, given that thirst pics are the main reason people use that app,” Musk tweeted in response to a long post criticizing Threads. “How many times have you read comments on Insta pics and wished there were more? Personally, never.”
Some of the criticisms of Threads are valid though. For example, a major drawback of Threads is the absence of a web browser interface. A significant number of people use web browsers on PCs, but they are unable to interact with the app.
Also, accounts linked to Instagram cannot be deleted without deleting both Instagram and Threads apps. This inability to decouple the apps is not acceptable to a lot of people as it doesn’t guarantee the freedom to leave.
Threads app also comes without a search function. Hence, users are unable to search key terms. Another limitation for Threads is the unresolved non-compliance with privacy laws which has led to it being locked out of the European Union. As one expert puts it, “Europeans value their privacy, but Meta values exploiting user data.”
“Meta’s clone app could backfire on Zuckerberg since most of its users are from Instagram, and not from Twitter as many assume,” said Mario Nawfal, CEO IBC Group, a blockchain consulting company. “By moving to Meta’s inferior imitation of Twitter, these users will be cannibalized from Instagram. In other words, they’ll swap out Instagram for the Twitter rip-off that Meta has created.”
In fairness, Threads is barely four days in existence. Twitter, launched in 2006, has passed through many updates including its famous 140-character limit to this point where it hosts many features including Twitter Threads, Twitter Spaces, Twitter Trends, and space for longer posts, among others. It is almost a given that more updates will come to the new Instagram Threads app that should be able to address its initial deficiencies.
But Musk’s main vexation appears to be the near similarities between Twitter and Threads. Some experts describe Zuckerberg’s creation as a lite or a stripped-down version of Twitter.
Musk not only believes Zuckerberg has acted in bad faith, but he is also preparing to challenge Threads in court. The world’s richest man has, through his lawyer, Alex Spiro, already sent a letter to Zuckerberg. In the letter first posted by Semafor, Musk expressed “serious concerns that Meta has engaged in the systematic, willful, and unlawful appropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”
The letter also accused Zuckerberg of poaching former Twitter engineers to build Threads. However, Andy Stone, Meta’s communication director in a post on Threads denied recruiting former Twitter workers or IP.
“No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee – that’s not a thing,” Stone said.
Musk is expected to head to court for redress. In the meantime, he can also intensify his karate training in hopes he will be able to reach Zuckerberg the lesson of his life when they meet in the cage. The odds are however on Zuckerberg whose recent outing at a Jiu-Jitsu competition was crowned with a gold medal.