On Sunday, this thread (pun intended!) popped up in the Solo Build It! forums: “Anyone Threading Yet?”
Great timing! I’ve been meaning to cover Meta’s (aka Facebook’s) release of Threads, a direct attack on Twitter, since it launched on July 5th.
The key questions to answer regarding Threads vs Twitter are:
Will Threads Succeed, and Should You Use it?
Threads vs Twitter… this is a battle of two unlikeable but brilliant entrepreneurs. The media seems to be behind Zuck(erberg) as the lesser of two evil billionaires, I guess.
Musk has thoroughly mismanaged Twitter so far. We’ll see if his new CEO can save their day. Until that happens, though, it’s quite likely that Musk has botched Twitter so badly that it may not be recoverable.
From firing people who were key to maintaining and growing the technology and business, to selling blue ticks (which gives you wider dissemination, no longer a sign that you’re a somebody), it’s truly amazing how badly he’s managed Twitter. And, importantly, he’s grown a ton of bad will along the way.
On the other hand, Zuck has largely marketed Threads by pumping it as the fastest new product adoption in history, even faster than OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The media has swallowed that hook, line and sinker. That makes it sound like the success story that it is not… yet.
I mean, a gazillion signups in a week does not count if you can force-feed it down the mouths of 10 gazillion IG followers (the two are tightly connected).
Factors That Could Unravel Threads
Here are a few things to watch for that could unravel Threads as quickly as it leapt out of the gates.
1) The press catches on and asks…
“Um, how many signups if you exclude folks who were already IG users?”
Don’t ever expect to get an answer to that, except maybe in 10 years when Zuck is laughingly recounting how he conned everyone “way back then.”
2) The press gets peeved for being misled, and the tone turns ugly.
This is important — once you lose the media and they turn on you, you’re in trouble. This can go from “cool” to “cold” fast. (It’s not the same as the first item to watch for.)
I don’t know why the antitrust issue hasn’t received more media coverage. This leans so heavily on Meta’s monopoly position that it seems (to me, at least) to fulfill the requirements for abusing the power of a monopoly.
Potential Antitrust Grounds Against Threads
I am no antitrust attorney, of course, so I asked Google’s Bard…
If you were going to prosecute Meta’s launch of its new product, Threads, on the basis of antitrust, how would you go about it? What grounds would you use?
Here’s what it said…
Monopoly power. Meta is a dominant player in the social media market, with over 2.8 billion active users across its platforms. This gives it significant market power, which it could use to stifle competition from other social media platforms, such as Twitter.
Predatory pricing. Meta has been accused of using predatory pricing to drive competitors out of the market. For example, it has been alleged that Meta subsidized the development of Threads in order to undercut Twitter’s prices.
Data exclusivity. Meta has been accused of using its data advantage to stifle competition. For example, it has been alleged that Meta uses data from its other platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to give Threads an unfair advantage over Twitter.
Tying. Meta has been accused of tying Threads to its other platforms, such as Instagram. This means that users who want to use Threads are also required to use Instagram, even if they don’t want to. This can make it difficult for users to switch to other social media platforms, such as Twitter.
I would also argue that Meta’s launch of Threads is anti-competitive because it harms consumers. By stifling competition, Meta can raise prices and reduce innovation. This can make it more difficult for consumers to get the best possible products and services at the best possible prices.
In addition to these specific grounds, I would also argue that Meta’s launch of Threads is anti-competitive in general because it violates the spirit of antitrust law. Antitrust law is designed to protect competition and promote innovation. By launching Threads, Meta is trying to eliminate competition and consolidate its market power. This is not in the best interests of consumers or the economy as a whole.
Arguments for Defending Threads in a Hypothetical Antitrust Lawsuit
Some of those sound pretty good, but again, what do I know? So I asked Bard a follow-up question.
If you were defending Threads, how would you defend?
Threads is not a monopoly. Meta is a dominant player in the social media market, but it does not have a monopoly. There are other social media platforms that are popular with consumers, such as Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Threads is not predatory pricing. Meta has not subsidized the development of Threads in order to undercut Twitter’s prices. In fact, Threads is a free app.
Threads does not use data exclusivity. Meta does not use data from its other platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to give Threads an unfair advantage over Twitter. Threads uses its own data to power its features and recommendations.
Threads is not tied to other Meta platforms. Users can use Threads without using any other Meta platforms. In fact, Threads is designed to be a standalone app that can be used by anyone, regardless of whether they use other Meta platforms.
I would also argue that Threads is not anti-competitive because it benefits consumers. Threads offers a number of features that are not available on other social media platforms, such as the ability to share photos and videos in a more private setting. This can make it easier for users to connect with their friends and family without worrying about their content being seen by a wider audience.
In addition to these specific arguments, I would also argue that Threads is not anti-competitive in general because it promotes innovation. Threads is a new social media platform that offers a different way for users to connect with each other. This type of innovation is essential for the social media market to continue to grow and evolve.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to launch Threads is up to Meta. However, I believe that the arguments I have presented here provide a strong case for why Threads should be allowed to continue operating.
Hmmm.. now I’m not so sure. You have to wonder why Musk, a rather litigious fellow, has not yet filed for injunctive relief on an antitrust basis if it was a strong approach. Instead, he’s sued them for hiring key people away from Twitter for their “trade secrets.” Maybe that’s meant to engender sympathy from us (after terminating three quarters of his employees — good luck!).
Time to Consult Bard Again?
So, finally, I asked Bard…
Pretend you are a world-class antitrust judge with deep experience in antitrust suits related to Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and so on. Who do you think would win this suit and why? What are the winning arguments?
And the winner is…
On the one hand, Meta is a dominant player in the social media market, and its launch of Threads could be seen as an attempt to stifle competition from other social media platforms, such as Twitter. Meta has also been accused of using predatory pricing, data exclusivity, and trying to give Threads an unfair advantage over its competitors.
On the other hand, Meta argues that Threads is not a monopoly, that it does not use predatory pricing, and that it does not use data exclusivity or tying. Meta also argues that Threads benefits consumers by offering a new way for them to connect with each other.
Ultimately, the decision of who would win the suit would depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. However, based on my experience in antitrust law, I believe that the arguments presented by Meta’s opponents would be more persuasive.
Here are some of the winning arguments that Meta’s opponents could make:
Meta’s market share in the social media market is significant, and its launch of Threads could be seen as an attempt to consolidate its market power.
Meta has a history of using predatory pricing to drive competitors out of the market.
Meta has a history of using data exclusivity and trying to give its products and services an unfair advantage over its competitors.
Meta’s launch of Threads could harm consumers by reducing competition and innovation in the social media market.
I believe that these arguments would be more persuasive because they are based on evidence and precedent.
Meta’s opponents would be able to point to specific examples of Meta’s past behavior that demonstrate its willingness to use anti-competitive practices. They would also be able to show that Meta’s launch of Threads could have a negative impact on consumers.
Of course, Meta would have its own arguments to make in its defense. However, I believe that the arguments presented by Meta’s opponents would be more persuasive.
As a result, I believe that Meta would likely lose the suit.
Interesting. That was my gut too. Meta can try to defend itself, but it’s difficult to ignore the suspicion that this is an attempt to use its power to squelch Twitter.
Still, these court cases can take a decade or two and a lot can happen.
Until then, if nothing else, you can look really smart in front of your friends and social media contacts as you spout the above information. 😂
Threads: A New Opportunity or Waste of Time for Small Business Owners?
While Threads may, or may not, live through the above perils, the time to jump on a new social media product, especially if it has a chance to take off, is early. It doesn’t cost much to copy what you tweet into Threads, at least to get rolling.
So if you use Twitter, it’s probably worth investing a minimal amount of time to get started and make your own decision about using Threads vs Twitter.
Something else to watch for? Using Twitter’s knowledge graph to grow your Threads account. First, a preamble…
I don’t do much on Instagram personally. I don’t do much social media at all, for that matter. I find it too negative (in subtle and in-your-face ways). That doesn’t mean I don’t find it to be vital to grow your business. I do. But I’ve digressed more than I intended.
While I don’t do much Instagram, if I did, I’d find the knowledge graph of Instagram (which we automatically inherit for Threads) to be almost useless. The nature of the followers is just too different.
Watch for the release of an application that makes it easy to download your Twitter knowledge graph, something that makes this ABC easy.
If Meta makes it easy to import the knowledge graph into Threads, along with an invite to each of your Twitter followers, it would accelerate the growth of your Threads following.
It may, though, be too dangerous for Meta to do, or even to get a “friend” to do it surreptitiously. It strikes me as “antitrust dangerous.” Still…
Subterfuge has never stopped Zuck before, dating all the way back to ripping off the Winklevoss twins.
Fun and games, games and fun.
So… should you or shouldn’t you? Well, I’ll put my small amount of time required where my mouth is.
I’ve gone ahead and created my Threads account. It was easy to do since Meta simply took my Instagram info and imported it into Threads. Super-fast and easy.
Check me out on Threads here. And this is the first post I made:
Post by @kenevoy
View on Threads
Take a second to join and drop me a like and a note. I’d love to hear your comments. And please share the post if you think your followers might be interested.
Let us know in a comment below if you have started a Threads account and your thoughts on Threads vs Twitter. Add whatever info you think folks here would find useful, if you like.
Overall, I have a feeling that Threads will work due to the negative power of Musk and the opportunism of Zuck. Antitrust is way down the road, unless Musk applies for an injunction against it. Probably unlikely, but never say never with these two.
And there you have it… reasons to try it and what to watch for that may signal a downturn.
See ya in Threads. 🧵 🧶 🙄