Twitter is “tanking” amid Threads’ surging popularity, analysts say

Data shows that a sudden spike in interest in Meta’s Threads—which surpassed 100 million signups in five days, Mark Zuckerberg boasted yesterday—has likely already put a tiny dent in Twitter’s traffic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The news comes after a tweet from Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince went viral. In it, Prince shared a Cloudflare chart showing that since January, Twitter traffic—compared to other popular websites—has been “tanking.”

During Threads’ first two days online, Twitter traffic dropped by 5 percent compared to the same two days in the prior week, web analytics firm SimilarWeb reported. When measuring year over year, Twitter’s traffic dropped by 11 percent.

“We’ve been reporting for a while that Twitter is down compared with last year,” David Carr, a SimilarWeb senior insights manager, told CNN. “But Threads seems to be taking a bigger bite out of it.”

While Threads continued growing, Twitter execs Elon Musk and Linda Yaccarino started sharing a new metric for user engagement that they seemingly found more encouraging than the somewhat dismal traffic reports.

“Don’t want to leave you hanging by a thread… but Twitter, you really outdid yourselves!” Yaccarino tweeted. “Last week we had our largest usage day since February.”

Musk responded to that tweet, clarifying what Yaccarino meant by “usage.”

“Cumulative user-seconds per day of phone screentime, as reported by iOS & Android, is hardest to game,” Musk tweeted. “I think we may hit an all-time record this week.”

While many Twitter users debated whether this new metric was meaningful—and some claimed it wasn’t even possible to track—the T(w)itter Daily account explained “why Elon changed Twitter’s metrics” from tracking monthly daily active users (mDAU) to user-seconds per day.

“The old mDAU metric” included bots and “people who got a Twitter notification on their phone but didn’t open the app,” while the “new metric is much harder to manipulate,” T(w)itter Daily tweeted.

T(w)itter Daily also claimed that Twitter 2.0 data scientists had verified that “despite some claims to the contrary, it absolutely is possible for Twitter to track how much time people use the app on iOS and Android.”

Musk responded to T(w)itter Daily’s thread, confirming that bots can still manipulate the new metric “via humans with lots of phones, but that is [more than] 100 times more expensive than bots.”

Right now, CNN reported that Threads is “on pace to rapidly pass Twitter’s audience size.” Both SimilarWeb and Cloudflare told CNN that Twitter traffic trending downward appears to have been accelerated by Threads’ launch, which seems to pose an obvious risk to Twitter’s business. It’s possible that Yaccarino’s and Musk’s tweets have introduced a new metric in an effort to reassure advertisers that Twitter engagement has gone up, despite reports of traffic tanking.

T(w)itter Daily went so far as to claim that the reason that Twitter user activity is up despite Threads launching—and despite its own decision to start rate-limiting tweets—is because “all publicity is good publicity.” Following that logic, all reports comparing Threads’ success to Twitter’s decline, including this one (which links to multiple tweets), ultimately lead Twitter users back to Twitter.

Meta and Twitter did not immediately respond to Ars’ request to comment.

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