Threads, Meta's competitor to X (formerly Twitter), has reached 175 million monthly users one year since its unexpected launch.

"What a year," Meta CEO and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg remarked on Wednesday on Threads, celebrating the platform's milestone. Launched on July 5 last year, Threads is an offshoot of Instagram and aims to challenge X, previously known as Twitter, especially after X lost many users and advertisers following Elon Musk's acquisition in 2022. Threads was quickly released after Musk threatened to restrict posts on X for non-subscribers, marking another unpredictable move by the volatile Tesla founder, which Zuckerberg sought to capitalize on.

Promoted via Instagram accounts, over 100 million people downloaded Threads within its first week across 100 countries, though the EU had to wait until December due to regulatory issues. This aggressive promotion from Instagram made Threads the fastest-downloaded app ever, surpassing the previous record held by AI sensation ChatGPT. Despite the initial surge, Threads has seen more gradual growth, largely thanks to its connection with Instagram and users disillusioned with Musk-owned X.

Threads chief Adam Mosseri expressed hope that the platform would evolve to be less dependent on Instagram over time and plans to introduce advertising in the near future. "Getting bigger than Musk's X will take some time, but I will consider it a failure if we don't get there," Mosseri told Platformer news website. Threads has faced criticism for Meta's decision to minimize news and politics to create a friendlier environment than X, potentially reducing user engagement.

"A year after launch, we know what Threads isn't, but we don't know what it is," noted Emarketer principal analyst Jasmine Enberg. "The lack of a unique identity is one of its biggest challenges to achieving lasting relevance," she added. Now privately owned by Musk, X no longer discloses industry metrics; the company claims its user base is growing and more engaged than on other platforms.

"Threads was launched during a time when X was struggling, but since then, X has shown surprising resilience," said Debra Aho Williamson, chief analyst at Sonata Insights, a research firm. "Sports and political discussions remain very active on X, and with major events like the Olympics, Euro 2024, and the US presidential election this year, X is likely to continue attracting users," she added.