Social media is in a turbulent state as Instagram Threads, the ambitious Twitter alternative spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg, grapples with an uptick in spam attacks and an increasing prevalence of crypto-shilling bots. In a desperate move to curtail the menace, the social media platform has imposed stringent rate limits, a move announced by Instagram head Adam Mosseri on July 17.
In his message, Mosseri acknowledged the growing issue of spam, admitting that the imposition of rate limits may lead to unintentional limiting of active people, also known as false positives. However, this move has not been without controversy. Twitter CEO Elon Musk, never one to shy away from a public spat, jested about the announcement on his own social media platform, suggesting a lack of originality with a succinct “copy 🐈.”
Zuckerberg’s vision stumbles amidst user engagement problems
However, the challenges for Instagram Threads extend beyond the influx of bots. Since its launch on July 5, the platform has amassed 100 million users in just five days, a testament to Zuckerberg’s enduring influence. Yet, maintaining engagement has emerged as a significant hurdle. According to a report by Olivia Moore, a partner at crypto venture capital firm a16z, just one-week post-launch, daily active users on Threads had plummeted by 40%. Notably, the average daily time per user has also witnessed a threefold decrease.
Moore’s analysis suggests that the attempt to import users directly from Instagram has proven counterproductive for Threads. This approach, tying users’ accounts directly to their real-life identities on Instagram, contradicts the nature of Twitter’s interaction, which thrives on anonymous accounts and fan pages. Moore underscores this point, asserting that “Twitter has built a unique social graph and interest graph that’s hard to replace. Even with a copycat product, the underlying networks and user identities developed over a decade are tough to replicate.”
Meanwhile, Elon Musk has been dealing with similar challenges on Twitter, having enforced limits on the number of posts viewable by users due to “extreme levels of data scraping.” This act, too, was met with criticism. Detractors claimed that the problem wouldn’t have existed if Twitter hadn’t downsized its engineering staff significantly.