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Threads hit 100 million users faster than ChatGPT, but Meta is cheating

Published Jul 11th, 2023 8:29AM EDT
Threads web app
Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Threads launched hastily last week to take advantage of Elon Musk’s most recent Twitter blunder: limiting the number of tweets people can read. Built on the infrastructure of Instagram, Threads is the most significant Twitter competitor out there. It’s also unfinished, with certain features coming down the road. And it’s unavailable in the European Union, which has stricter privacy rules than Meta is willing to comply with at this point.

Still, Threads managed to reach 100 million already, and it hit the milestone even faster than the record set by ChatGPT. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quick to point out the accomplishment. And getting to 100 million within five days of launch is remarkable. But Meta is cheating here. Meta isn’t really starting from scratch, getting users like ChatGPT did. Or like other Twitter rivals out there, including Mastodon (7.7 million users) and Bluesky (265,000 users) had to do.


You don’t need to do anything to get on Threads as long as you have an Instagram account. Your existing account works as a Threads account once you install the app. On that note, you can’t delete your Threads account either. So, technically, Threads may never lose subscribers.

Since Instagram has over a billion users, anyone can get on Threads immediately. That’s not a bad thing for Meta to do, however: It’s taking advantage of the massive success of Instagram to power the first microblogging platform in the world that can actually replace Twitter.

It’s quite convenient, efficient, and smart. As for users, they just continue following the same people and companies on Threads that they already follow on Instagram. There’s no lazier way to sign up for a “new” social network.

Threads app for iPhone.
Threads app for iPhone. Image source: App Store

This strategy also avoids having to deal with a potential failure. You’d have to acknowledge that shame with a brand-new product, one that would require separate sign-ups. But you can hide it away with Threads.

Not that Zuckerberg should. He is making a big deal out of Threads interest, and deservedly so. “That’s mostly organic demand, and we haven’t even turned on many promotions yet,” the Meta CEO said of Threads’ 100 million users.

But again, it’s somewhat disingenuous. It’s not as big an achievement as Facebook having reached 100 million users. Or Instagram. Or WhatsApp. These were all first-gen products with no userbases to take advantage of.

You could build a Twitter rival on the WhatsApp infrastructure, call it ThreadsApp, and see it explode to probably well over 100 million users in a matter of days. As long as Musk helps out. After all, WhatsApp has more than two billion users.

Also, Zuckerberg didn’t have to “turn on” promotions. Well, aside from trolling Musk on Twitter. Or profiting from Musk’s childish reactions to Threads, lawsuit included. Musk is doing all the Threads promotion for Meta right now.

As for comparisons to ChatGPT, like Reuters, the generative AI went from 0 to 100 million users in some two months. That outperformed all of Meta’s apps.

I do expect Threads to grow even more in the weeks and months to come. But the real tests will come down the road. Retaining those users and keeping them engaged. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of milestones Meta announces down the road, especially when it comes to active monthly users.

Besides being a potentially worthy Twitter replacement, the good thing coming out of Threads is the pressure on Twitter. Maybe Musk will stop ruining the platform, which has some 240 million users, according to last July’s data. He never had a similar incentive, as there was no Twitter-killer app until 100 million Threads users ago.

Reuters points out that Twitter traffic was down 11% from last year in the days after the Threads launch. It was down only 4% in June compared to last year. Twitter, meanwhile, has a different opinion on traffic, as you can see above.

Meta’s 100 million users milestone might be somewhat misleading, and Threads lacks might lack several features. But, make no mistake, Meta can turn Threads into a complete Twitter killer and deliver the user experience and content people want.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.