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Instagram's Threads Gears Up for Showdown with X by Unveiling Trending Topics

Threads is stepping into the ring to take on the social media giant, X. Users can glimpse a numbered list of trending topics
By Josefina Dipaolo
October 11, 2023

In the ever-evolving world of social media, Instagram's Threads is gearing up to take on the heavyweight, formerly known as Twitter, with a game-changing feature: Trends. Recently, a keen-eyed Threads user stumbled upon a leaked screenshot, inadvertently shared by a Threads employee, revealing a numbered list of trending topics along with the number of "threads" actively discussing each one.

This sneak peek, caught by user Willian Max, was likely intended for Meta's internal feed, sparking speculation and excitement within the tech community. While Instagram remains tight-lipped about the development, this move signifies Threads' determination to challenge the supremacy of its social media counterpart, formerly Twitter.

However, it's worth noting that Threads' Trends list doesn't seem to include other specialized lists like News, Sports, Entertainment, or personalized trends, as seen on the platform it aims to rival.

This strategic addition is Threads' latest move in its quest to stand out in the bustling realm of social media giants. Other contenders in this space, such as open-source Mastodon, Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky, and startups like Pebble and Spill, are also vying for their share of the market.

Since its rapid ascent with 100 million users shortly after its July 5th launch, Threads has been on a mission to enhance its offerings. It has introduced features like a chronological feed, a web app, profile switching, and a "liked posts" feature, all while ensuring robust search capabilities. However, merely introducing search functionality won't cut it for Threads. To truly compete with the former Twitter, it needs to master the art of combining search and trends, the secret sauce that makes the former Twitter a hub for breaking news and real-time discussions.

Recent reports suggest some internal concerns within Threads regarding its embrace of news content, a path that could potentially lead to challenges faced by Meta over the years. Meta, with its news circulation on Facebook, experienced division among users and the spread of inflammatory and fake news.

In response to these concerns, Instagram head Adam Mosseri clarified that Threads isn't anti-news; it's merely cautious about managing expectations and not over-promising. This cautious approach is reflected in Threads' blocking of certain terms from its search feature, such as "covid," "vaccination," and explicit content, aiming for a more positive and friendly environment compared to the often critical atmosphere on the former Twitter.

Nevertheless, this "good vibes only" strategy might not be sufficient to position Threads as a true rival to the former Twitter. News tends to evoke strong reactions and discussions, making it a critical aspect of any social media platform's success.

While the addition of Trends is undoubtedly a significant step, it remains to be seen if it can sway users away from the former Twitter to Threads. Previous highly anticipated features, including the web app launch, failed to substantially impact Threads' user base.

According to Similarweb, Threads' Android app experienced a drop in usage, falling from 49.2 million users on July 7 to 10.3 million a month later. Data from August 2023 suggests that Threads has reached 135 million global monthly active users, still far from the former Twitter's 666 million user estimate. The battle for social media supremacy continues, and Threads is determined to make its mark.

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