iphone displaying social media application

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, two of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, are currently arguing. The reason? A new app called “Threads”! Let’s discuss this news today!

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  • Founder (n) – someone who establishes an organization.
    • She is the founder and managing director of the company.
  • Rival (n) – a person, group, etc. competing with others for the same thing or in the same area.
    • The companies produce rival versions of the toy.
  • Social media (n) – websites and computer programs that allow people to communicate and share information on the internet using a computer or mobile phone.
    • Companies are increasingly making use of social media in order to market their goods.
  • Platform (n) – a method of communication or entertainment, for example television, radio, or the internet.
    • We are currently selling advertisements across several different platforms – web, internet phones, and multiple sections of the newspaper.
  • To acquire (v) – to get or obtain something.
    • I was wearing a newly acquired jacket.
  • To rebrand (v) – to change the way that an organization, company, or product is seen by the public.
    • Facebook rebranded to Meta a few years ago.
  • To take advantage of something (idiom) – to use an opportunity to achieve results, sometimes in an unfair way.
    • Let’s take advantage of the good weather and go to the beach.
  • Backlash (n) – a strong feeling among a group of people in reaction to a change or recent events in society or politics.
    • There has been a backlash against the proposals.

Threads (and cage fight)!

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are two of the most influential, powerful, and wealthy individuals on the planet. One is a South African entrepreneur, known for founding SpaceX, being the CEO of Tesla, and recently buying Twitter; the other is founder of Facebook and owner of Instagram, WhatsApp, and more apps.

Over the past few months, a rivalry has been growing between the two billionaires. First, Musk challenged Zuckerberg to a cage fight (a challenge which was apparently accepted). And now Musk, and his company Twitter, are threatening to sue Mark Zuckerberg and his company Meta.

The reason? A new app called Threads which resembles Twitter in appearance and content. Some have been referring to Threads as a “Twitter Killer”, an alternative social media that will rival Musk’s Twitter.

Today I want to look at this rivalry. Let’s look at Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter and Meta, and why Threads has been launched!


Who is Involved?

Let’s start by taking a look at the two figures in this battle – Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.

Who is Elon Musk?

Elon Musk is an entrepreneur and business magnate known for his work in technology, transportation, and space exploration.

I actually recorded an episode on Elon Musk and his purchase of Twitter a few months ago – make sure you all go and check it out! However, for those of you who haven’t listened yet, I’ll briefly recap here.

Born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk has made significant contributions to various industries. After completing high school in South Africa, Musk moved to Canada for further studies.

In 1995, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and economics. Soon after, he co-founded Zip2, a software company that provided business directories and maps for newspapers. Zip2’s success led to its acquisition by Compaq for $307 million in 1999.

Elon Musk carried on in the business world, co-founding X.com, an online payment company that later became PayPal. PayPal revolutionized online transactions, gained widespread popularity, and was acquired by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.

Musk then turned his attention to the aerospace industry and founded SpaceX in 2002, a company aiming to reduce the cost of space exploration and eventually colonize Mars. The company achieved significant milestones, including becoming the first privately-funded company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX’s development of reusable rockets has disrupted the aerospace industry, making space travel more affordable.

Musk is probably best known for his involvement in electric vehicle company Tesla. Tesla has played a major role in promoting electric vehicles and sustainable transportation. The company has introduced groundbreaking electric cars like the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y.

Apart from SpaceX and Tesla, Musk has been involved in other ventures, including SolarCity (a solar energy services company), Neuralink (a neurotechnology company focused on brain-machine interfaces), and The Boring Company (specializing in advanced tunnelling systems).

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Who is Mark Zuckerberg?

Mark Zuckerberg is best known as the co-founder of Facebook and currently serves as the CEO of Meta. He was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York, and has achieved significant success in his career.

During his time at Harvard University, Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook in 2004 with his college roommates. Initially, the platform was created as a way for Harvard students to connect and share information. However, its popularity quickly grew, and it expanded to other universities and eventually became accessible to the general public. Facebook has revolutionized the way people communicate and interact online, becoming one of the most widely used social media platforms with billions of active users worldwide.

Zuckerberg continuously introduced new features and innovations in his company, expanding the platform beyond social networking. Facebook now includes messaging, photo sharing, events, and a marketplace for buying and selling goods. Zuckerberg’s focus on user experience and connectivity has made Facebook an integral part of people’s daily lives.

I’ll talk about the other companies and apps owned by Zuckerberg in a second, but it is important to the context of this episode to know that Zuckerberg and Facebook have been accused of copying and stealing other people’s ideas.

The Apps


Twitter is a widely used social media platform that allows users to share and engage with short messages called “tweets.” It was founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in 2006.

The concept behind Twitter is to provide a platform where users can express their thoughts, opinions, and updates in 280 characters or less. This distinguished Twitter from other social media platforms – it encouraged users to be concise.

Since its foundation, Twitter has become an influential platform for news, trends, and discussions. It allows users to follow other accounts and receive updates from them in their personalized feed. Twitter’s real-time nature makes it particularly useful for live events, breaking news, and public conversations on a global scale.

As an app, Twitter has undergone several developments and improvements over the years. It introduced features like hashtags, which help categorize and discover relevant content, and retweets, which allow users to share tweets from others. Twitter also expanded its capabilities by adding features such as direct messaging, threaded conversations, and the option to create and follow lists of accounts based on specific interests.

Twitter has had a significant impact on various aspects of society, including politics, entertainment, and activism. It has become a platform for public figures, organizations, and individuals to connect with their audience, amplify their voices, and engage in discussions.

In 2022, Elon Musk announced his intention to buy Twitter. I’ve recorded an entire episode on this, so go and listen to it!

In summary, since Musk has taken over Twitter the app has not been the same. After spending months trying to back-out of the deal to buy twitter, Musk eventually completed his purchase in October last year. And here a just a few of the recent Twitter controversies.

  • Elon Musk fired the majority of Twitter’s staff.
  • Policies to counter hate speech are gone.
  • Mainstream advertisers have left the platform, impacting its advertising revenue.
  • Users are now required to pay for verified status.
  • Twitter recently experienced accessibility issues, making the site unusable for heavy users.
  • Musk limited the number of posts non-paying users could view to 600 per day, possibly to address unauthorized access.
  • Twitter’s communication staff has been terminated, making it difficult to obtain explanations for policy changes.
  • There has been an increase in hate speech and conspiracy theorist usage of the site.

In this climate, many people have been looking for an alternative to Twitter… and this is where Meta and Threads comes in!

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Meta (Facebook and Instagram)

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is a leading technology company founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. It has grown into a global social media platform connecting billions of users worldwide. Over the years, Facebook has acquired several notable companies, and its recent rebranding to Meta reflects its changing ambitions.

Facebook’s foundation can be traced back to Zuckerberg’s dorm room at Harvard University, where he initially created the platform as a way for college students to connect and share information. The platform changed online communication and networking, enabling us to share posts, photos, and videos while connecting with friends, family, and communities.

As Facebook grew, it began a strategy of buying other companies, most famously Instagram, a popular photo-sharing platform acquired in 2012, and WhatsApp, a widely used messaging app acquired in 2014.

In recent years, Facebook has undergone a significant transformation, leading to the rebranding of the parent company as Meta. This shift reflects a broader vision to build the metaverse, a virtual space where people can interact, work, play, and explore in digital environments.



Over the past few months, rumours had been heard that Meta was developing a rival to twitter, and this was confirmed by the launch of “Threads”.

At first glance, the apps do look very similar. You can post a thread (which is like tweeting), repost those threads (like retweeting), and reply to them. And like Twitter, the app allows real-time, public conversations and aims to create spaces for different communities. It is a space for public communication (like Twitter)!

Threads is currently part of and connected with Instagram, the massively popular Meta-owned photo sharing platform. You need to have an Instagram account to make a Threads account and you are able to share your Threads directly to Instagram. And even though it is not available in every country, Mark Zuckerberg claimed 30,000,000 accounts had been made on the first day.

Apparently, Instagram aims to make Threads work across multiple apps in the future – likely Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Right now, Threads can be downloaded in around 100 countries but not in the EU (which now has some very strict data-sharing laws).

Why has Instagram launched threads?

Meta has launched Threads as a competitor to Twitter using Instagram’s resources and user base. Meta has obviously seen an opportunity to take advantage of the challenges Twitter faced under Elon Musk’s leadership. Twitter’s instability and uncertainty has left users wanting an alternative… and by building Threads on Instagram’s existing platform, Meta can use its established community.

The timing of Threads’ release was influenced by the recent controversy surrounding Musk’s restrictions on tweet visibility. This backlash showed that Twitter users were dissatisfied and open to exploring alternatives. Meta accelerated the launch of Threads to attract the attention of disillusioned users and cater to the demand for a user-friendly social media platform.

Meta has high hopes for Threads and expects it to gain a significant user base in the initial months. While acknowledging the risks of introducing a new app, Meta sees Threads as an opportunity. By providing a platform that meets the needs of creators and its community, Meta aims to establish Threads as a space for public discussions (just as Twitter once was).


Is Threads a Threat to Twitter?

So, in the battle of the social media giants, will Meta be able to defeat Twitter?

Threads has been emphasizing the importance of “kindness” and a positive user experience, highlighting a key difference from Twitter. Zuckerberg has suggested that Twitter’s failure to maintain a positive environment has cause its problems.

Musk’s tenure has been characterized by controversial changes and actions, such as job cuts, viewing limits, and strange decisions, which have contributed to a negative public image for Twitter. This has created an opportunity for Zuckerberg and Meta to offer an alternative.

However, users tend to be reluctant to switch social media platforms and learn something new. But Threads has a few factors in its favour.

First, if you already have an Instagram account, making a Threads account takes less than 10 seconds (and you will automatically be following all of the same people as you do on Instagram). Instagram has 2 billion users, a lot more than Twitter, and already 70 million or so people have joined Threads.

Second, it looks a lot like Twitter… so you don’t really have to learn too much. If you know how to use Twitter, you will know how to use Threads.

Users who rely on Twitter for public communication, such as commentators, journalists, influencers, and politicians, are crucial for the success of Threads. If high-profile users and content creators start using Threads, so will others.

However, Threads is not without potential controversies. It is not available in the EU yet due to data privacy concerns. And it is connected with Instagram, meaning that you cannot delete your Threads account without deleting your Instagram account.

Meta will always have another advantage over Twitter – advertising. While Twitter has lost many of its advertisers due to Musk, Meta has one of the largest advertising systems in the world. Although Threads doesn’t have ads yet… it will one day!

Other Twitter rivals, like Mastodon and BlueSky, are too small and confusing to really challenge Twitter. But Threads, backed by Meta’s expertise and infrastructure, represents a significant challenge to Twitter and Elon Musk. Moreover, Zuckerberg’s competitive spirit to make the most powerful social media company in the world is driving his rivalry with Musk and Twitter!

Final Thought

Threads could be the most serious threat to Twitter yet. Musk’s leadership of Twitter has driven many users away from the platform, and Threads could be an option for people use.

What is interesting, however, is that Threads is not a completely clean and friendly application. It is owned by Meta, a company that has a terrible reputation when it comes to data handling. The app is not available in Europe because of this reason.

Despite this, Threads looks likely to offer an option for the millions of Twitter users angry at Elon Musk’s actions.

What do you think? Do you use Twitter? Have you downloaded Threads?

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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

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