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Is the New App, Threads, Gearing Up to be the Twitter of Gen Z?

New app, Twitter Rivalry, Social Media Burnout…. Oh My!

Credit: Shutterstock/ Ascennio

Gen Z doesn’t use Twitter nearly as much as Millennials. Now, Meta’s launching a social media competitor app: Threads. But the question remains whether it will re-engage young adults with the platform style.

What is Threads?

Within one day of its launch, the new social media app, Threads, gained over 40 million users worldwide. The app, created by Instagram’s parent company Meta, now reached 100 million users. This makes it the most rapidly downloaded app in the past decade. 

The app, branded as ‘Twitter’s rival,’ is a “text-based conversation app.” Users can interact with others through short posted messages, likes, comments, and shares. The app’s draw: new users transfer all their Instagram followers to Threads. No need to rebuild your following.

The app’s ease of access led many content creators and celebrities to quickly adopt the app. Haley Kalil, a content creator with five million Tik Tok followers, told Forbes Magazine that her largely Gen Z audience wasn’t on Twitter. Because of this, she never felt a need to download the app. Threads, on the other hand, is quickly attracting teenagers and young adults. Young influencers, like Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and 20-year-old singer Olivia Rodrigo are all already active on Threads.

Image of Olivia Rodrigo. Social Media, Threads, Meta, Twitter
Olivia Rodrigo is one of the many celebrities to download the app within the first week of its launch. Shutterstock/Fred Duval

Just another social media app?

Only 17.1% of Twitter users are 18 to 24, and an even smaller percentage of 6.6% are 13 to 17. In contrast, 38.5% of Twitter users are 25-34 and 20.7% are 35-49. The trend is clear: Young adults are on Twitter less than older generations. Threads have not yet released demographic data. But, Threads’ ability to capitalize on their connection to Instagram, which roughly three out of four Gen Zers claim to use, positions them well to target young demographics.

Threads is one of the many new social media apps to rise in the last year. They range from lesser-known apps like Lemon8 to supposedly “carefree” apps like Bereal. All these apps followed a similar tale: a spike in popularity and then a decline as users become bored or tired. “Everyone gets these apps when they are new and shiny,” said Victoria Simeran, a 19-year-old university student and early downloader of Threads. “But people cannot maintain them long-term.”

Internet users were quick to point out society’s burnout when it comes to the growing list of social media apps. TikTok Memes circulated, poking fun at the panic that social media managers were feeling, faced with yet another app and marketing strategy to develop.

Threads, Meta, Social Media
TikTok Video, with 81 thousand likes, reacting to Threads launch. TikTok/ @taliafromky

“Even though no one wants another app, I honestly think Threads might have a chance. They didn’t have to create a new concept. They just reintroduced people to something that they already knew was good,” said Simeran. She explained that within one day of joining the app, she gained almost 100 followers. “Clearly Gen Z is on the app. I can tell just by how many of my friends have it. But, I think people are hesitant to actually post. It’s like people are on the app but only brands and content creators are posting.”

Threads: The App That Allows for Authenticity Online?

Though Threads is known as a Twitter copycat, the app has certain differences from Twitter. Most notably, it is missing direct messages, the trending topics tab, and hashtags. TikTok, one of the most widely downloaded apps on the market, was originally known for its simplicity. Users just scroll and have content auto-generated. Similarly, Threads shows you the content of those you follow and auto-generates posts. More and more individuals, especially Gen Z, want quick, simple, and curated content, a fact of which Threads is seemingly aware.

Threads also appeal to a desire for authenticity online. While Instagram went through phases of “making Instagram casual,” the app never lost its connotation as fake and aesthetic. Twitter, which used to be a place to post funny comments and ideas also lost its casualness. Content creator Chelsea Davis told Forbes Twitter is now filled with people who view themselves as “great leaders and thinkers.” She explained that it is overwhelming.

Early Threads posts are authentic in the way that usually comes when apps are still new. TikTok creator Noah Beck, who currently has 374 thousand Threads followers posted: “currently walking down a hill…if u see me, no u don’t,” garnering 1,439 likes. Even big companies seem to adopt laissez-faire personas when it comes to the app. The official Washington Post threads account posted a simple: “ocean cancelled,” promoting a new article.

Stock photo of Threads versus Twitter. Meta, social media
Threads’ posts mirror the casualness of the early days of Twitter. Shutterstock/Shaheer

“As time goes on, I think we will start to see the true nature of the app,” said Simeran. “It’s really hard to tell because everyone is authentic at the beginning, but once you get a ton of followers, it becomes really hard not to be hyper-aware of what you post.”

Ultimately, only time will tell whether this app will be the new and improved Twitter or ‘that social media app Meta tried to launch a while back.’ Regardless, the app had a significant impact on the app space and will definitely be in the cultural zeitgeist for a while. “Right now, everyone is still in the ‘why don’t I give it a try and see what the hype is about’ phase,” said Simeran. “We will see how long it lasts after that.”

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Hi I'm Satya. I'm a junior in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. I'm majoring in Culture and Politics, with a minor in journalism and diplomatic studies. I am interested in international politics, pop culture, and fashion. I hope to pursue a career in political journalism.

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