While his Twitter clone hoovered up millions of users just hours after launching, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the opportunity to log onto his Twitter account yesterday after 11 years of absence to troll Twitter CEO Elon Musk with a well-known meme — two identical Spider-Men pointing fingers at each other.
The rare tweet clearly hit its mark. It took a defensive Musk less than two hours to shoot back: "It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram."
The dueling tweets came as Zuckerberg's Threads app, basically a Twitter clone linked to Instagram, made a play for social media supremacy yesterday by signing up over 30 million users in less than 24 hours.
"It'll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with one billion plus people on it," wrote Zuckerberg on Threads. "Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn't nailed it. Hopefully we will."
This episode is another notch in the storied rivalry between the two tech titans — which until recently looked more like a weird sideshow act at a low-rent carnival show with Musk and Zuckerberg making noises about fighting each other in the Vegas Octagon.
Zuckerberg, clearly smelling blood in the water, is now leveraging his enormous Instagram user base and a butt load of capital to take advantage of Musk's numerous, well-publicized stumbles at Twitter, ever since he took over the reins last October.
Many users say Twitter has become a haven for hate speech since Musk took the helm and purposefully relaxed content moderation guidelines. The most recent stumble was when Musk limited the number of tweets that users can see last week, which he claimed was done as a temporary measure to thwart data scrapers, Reuters reported at the time.
Time will tell if Threads is the Twitter killer app that some people are hoping it will be, but the skyrocketing user numbers should serve as a wake-up call for Musk. In addition, big names like US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are eagerly signing up, clearly hankering for an alternative to the current messiness of Twitter and Musk's mercurial management.
"May this platform have good vibes, strong community, excellent humor, and less harassment," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Threads.
In a clear shot against Musk, Zuckerberg wrote on Threads: "We are definitely focusing on kindness and making this a friendly place."
But whether those efforts will end up paying off remains to be seen.
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