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Mark Zuckerberg aims dig at Twitter as Threads launches

The slight may bring his mooted cage bout with Elon Musk closer

By Joe Goggins

Mark Zuckerberg, 2015
Threads has racked up ten million users already. (Photo: JD Lasica/Wikimedia Commons)

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Meta’s new Twitter rival, Threads, will “focus on kindness”, as the platform saw over ten million of sign-ups within hours of its launch. 

In a clear swipe at Elon Musk‘s platform, Zuckerberg responded to a question from MMA fighter Mike Davis about whether Threads could surpass Twitter’s number of users by saying: “It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1bn+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will.”

Posting from his own Threads account, Meta’s chief executive replied to another question by saying that “we are definitely focusing on kindness and making this a friendly place”. Since Musk took over Twitter in a $44 billion deal earlier this year, he has been criticised for allowing a host of previously banned accounts to return, with his focus on Twitter being a platform for free speech. Research has since shown that problematic content and hate speech have risen sharply on Musk’s watch.

Zuckerberg’s move to challenge Musk with a copycat competitor has already given rise to the prospect of the two men facing off in a cage fight, with the former apparently having accepted the latter’s offer; UFC president Dana White has said that both men are “dead serious” about the potential bout. Meta claimed that ten million people have already signed up to threads in its first few hours, which would put it behind another rival’s sign-ups in the same timeframe; Mastodon reported a figure of thirteen million. Both currently sit well behind Twitter’s estimated 250 million users.

Whilst boasting that early adopters of Threads include Coldplay, Jennifer Lopez and Tom Brady, Meta have also been careful to suggest that the number of users is not the only metric by which they will be measuring its success. “It would be great if it gets really, really big, but I’m actually more interested in if it becomes culturally relevant than if it gets hundreds of millions of users,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri told The Verge; he is overseeing the Threads launch.