According to data tracking websites, the Threads app, launched by Instagram as a competitor to Twitter, has amassed over 100 million users in less than five days, surpassing the previous record held by the AI tool ChatGPT for the fastest-growing consumer app. While ChatGPT took two months and TikTok took nine months to reach 100 million users, Instagram itself took two and a half years to achieve the same milestone after its launch in 2010.
Threads was made available on Apple and Android app stores in 100 countries last Wednesday and Thursday, although it is not accessible in Europe due to concerns by parent company Meta about navigating the European Union’s data privacy regulations.
Although Twitter is estimated to have approximately 200 million regular users, it has faced recurrent technical issues since being acquired by Tesla CEO Elon Musk last year, resulting in the termination of numerous employees. Musk, also the head of SpaceX, has alienated many users by introducing charges for previously free services and permitting banned right-wing accounts back onto the platform. While several rivals have emerged, most of them are niche platforms without the potential to grow on the scale necessary to challenge Twitter.
Threads has found it easier to gain traction due to its integration with Instagram, which boasts over one billion regular users.
Online data service Quiver Quantitative reported that Threads surpassed 100 million users at 0700 GMT on Monday. Other websites, using a count of the “badges” received by Instagram users who downloaded Threads, indicated that the milestone had been reached earlier.
However, Meta is facing significant challenges regarding data privacy legislation in Europe. The company already faces regular fines for violating the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the upcoming Digital Markets Act explicitly prohibits firms like Meta, which owns Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, from combining data across their platforms. Meta’s business model relies on collecting personal data for targeted advertising, and Threads accounts are linked to Instagram accounts.
The European Union’s industry commissioner, Thierry Breton, commented on Threads, stating that Meta’s efforts to ensure compliance with the law were commendable. He suggested that taking the necessary time to do so was a good policy and that there were numerous solutions available.
In the midst of these developments, Elon Musk has threatened to sue Meta for alleged theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, although the company denies these claims. Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg have engaged in a personal and increasingly petty rivalry for years, which has intensified since Meta’s intentions to compete with Twitter became apparent. Last month, the two men challenged each other to a cage fight, and upon the launch of Threads, Zuckerberg posted his first tweet in a decade. He shared a popular meme featuring two Spider-Men facing each other, alluding to the similarities between Threads and Twitter.
On Monday, Musk escalated the feud by proposing a “literal” penis-measuring contest between himself and Zuckerberg.