Threads released an iOS update this week that automates the ability to translate posts into foreign languages. The Instagram spinoff also added a follows tab to the activities feed, where replies and mentions are displayed. Also new to iOS is the ability to access a list of any user’s Instagram followers, to subscribe to “unfollowed” users, and tappable repost labels. While Threads has prompted shock and awe by hitting 100 million downloads within five days of its July 5 launch, and is now at about 150 million, there are reports of dips in user activity. Meanwhile, the new platform has followed Twitter in introducing tighter rate limits.
Threads already has one-fifth Twitter’s active worldwide user base, but its daily active users dropped by 20 percent last week, while time spent also declined by as much as 50 percent (from 20 minutes to 10), according to data.io.
While “Threads is extremely slick by the normal standards of a new social app,” it “still lacks many useful utilities that some users might deem to be essential,” TechCrunch reports, citing “the app’s lack of accessibility features like alt text at launch,” something featured by competitors Mastodon and Bluesky. Customizable alt text for image descriptions is often read out as audio for the visually impaired and is standard in most app designs.
One thing that could be cooling users to Threads is spam. With the surge in Threads’ user growth came a surge in bot infestation, according to Adam Mosseri, who runs both Instagram and Threads for Meta Platforms.
This week Mosseri announced tighter rate limits for Threads “to protect users from spam attacks in the new app, but it may also be related to data scraping, which was the key motivator for Twitter introducing its own rate limits recently, which have been widely criticized by Twitter users and tech analysts alike,” according to Social Media Today.
The apps have taken significantly different approaches to rate limits, however, with Mossieri “limiting rapid actions, like mass follows and comments” on Instagram and Threads, while “Twitter has restricted how many tweets a user can view,” Social Media Today writes, musing that “it’s difficult to know what the impacts of these new rate limits will be on Threads users, and how many people will be affected by the restrictions.”
Meanwhile, Threads is getting some pushback from the grassroots Fediverse community it indirectly serves, as a platform built on the ActivityPub framework that is the social media equivalent of open source.
Some Fediverse users “have circulated a pact to preemptively block content from Threads’ servers from appearing on their own,” Ars Technica reports, noting that in a matter of weeks, “Threads already dwarfs the Fediverse, which has been around for more than a decade and recently peaked at about 4 million active monthly users.”
In an analysis of Threads useage and growth, TechCrunch concludes that while there may be dips and obstacles, “momentum for Threads is far from over.”
Threads Usage Drops by Half from Initial Surge, Similarweb, 7/17/23
Threads’ Daily Active Users Halve in One Week: Should Brands Still Take It Seriously?, The Drum, 7/17/23
Bluesky vs. Threads vs. Mastodon: If You Leave Twitter, Where Will You Go?, ZDNet, 7/17/23
Twitter to Support Long-Form Articles with Mixed Media, Elon Musk Confirms, TechCrunch, 7/18/23