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Saturday, May 18, 2024

With Threads, Meta Challenges Twitter’s Grip on Sports

  • New platform attracts more than 30 million users in first day
  • Social media battle joins together pair of highly controversial executives
Jefferson Graham/USA TODAY

One of the leading tools for sports fan engagement now has a serious, fast-moving competitor that could potentially reshape the entire social media landscape.

Beloved by millions of fans, teams, leagues, players, and journalists, Twitter has been embroiled in near-constant controversy in the eight-plus months of Elon Musk’s ownership — and is now facing its first significant challenge in the real-time, short-form social media space from Threads. 

Developed by Facebook parent Meta and that company’s Instagram team, Threads is a text-focused outgrowth of Instagram and represents a new platform for real-time updates and public conversations.

Blowing past other rival entities such as Blue Sky and Mastodon, Threads attracted more than 30 million users in less than 24 hours of initial availability.

Threads’ development arrives with plenty of questions. As Musk has alienated many Twitter users with his embrace of extreme right-wing politics and impulsive management and policy shifts, the similarly reviled Meta co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has his own history of flouting government regulation and spurring allegations of spreading misinformation. 

“This new effort is from a company proven to be rather derelict about user privacy and data,” Tom Richardson, Mercury Intermedia senior vice president and a longtime influential voice in digital sports media, told Front Office Sports.

On a practical level, key Twitter features — such as chronological feeds vital to that platform’s link to live sports — are not currently available on Threads.

In the early days of Threads, the service has already attracted top sports newsbreakers such Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski, heightening curiosity as to how large it can grow.

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