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Battle of the Billionaires: Zuck Strikes the First Blow with Threads

The epic battle between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk has invaded the internet over the last three weeks. This hasn’t come as a surprise to most insiders and general onlookers, as the battle has been brewing for a while now. Both men had been subtly taunting and throwing shades at each other, but very few saw the direction it would take next.

How Did This Happen?

It started on June 21, 2023, when the Twitter owner tweeted about his willingness to engage Zuck in a cage fight. In response, the 39-year-old Meta CEO took to his Instagram story and posted Musk’s tweet with the caption, “Send me location.” 

The media thought it was just banter until Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White revealed that he received a text from the billionaire Meta CEO asking about Musk’s true intentions for the fight. Dana reached Elon Musk, who confirmed he wasn’t bluffing and was ready for a real man-to-man showdown. Meta’s spokesperson Iska Saric also verified that the battle lines have been drawn, and there is no backing down. 

The two billionaires are fierce tech rivals who have criticized each other over the years, with Zuck making snide remarks about SpaceX and Musk mocking Meta’s data privacy scandals. Physical combat between the tech heavyweights will be historic. The late Apple ex-CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates used to throw verbal shots at each other, but it never escalated into physical combat. 

How Has it Gone So Far?

On Wednesday, July 5, 2023, Mark Zuckerberg introduced Threads, a direct Twitter competition, to the world. Although he hinted at his plans for the app three months ago, no one envisioned it would come at a time like this. But what better time to kick your competition than when he is down? It is no news that Elon Musk has been taking the heat recently for his management of Twitter. With the exit of core team members in November 2022, the Twitter Blue saga, and the introduction of daily tweet limits, the billionaire has not been in the good books of many social media users. 

Threads started with a bang as over 10 million users signed up to the platform in the first seven hours, with the numbers skyrocketing to a whopping 30 million by the morning of Thursday. The Meta CEO took to his Threads account and expressed his joy. 

Threads is an app from Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. It is available on iOS and Android and has a text-based feed like Twitter. Messages posted to Threads have a 500-character limit. In contrast, the Bird app has a 280-character limit for primary users but up to 4000 for Twitter Blue subscribers. 

Threads users can repost, quote, and reply to other posts. The app is synced to a user’s Instagram account, allowing sharing posts directly to Instagram Stories via Threads. Verified Instagram accounts are automatically verified on Threads. Accounts can be listed as public or private. But DMs are not available on Threads. 

The similarities between Threads and Twitter have caused an uproar on social media. DogeDesigner, a Musk faithful, clowned the lack of originality of Meta’s latest app and tweeted a meme to signify that the team simply copied and pasted. Elon Musk responded with a laughter emoji, leading to more war of words between the billionaires. 

The story gets even more fascinating with Elon Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro sending a cease and desist letter to the Meta CEO. The letter claims that Meta stole Twitter’s intellectual property to create Threads. It also accused Zuckerberg of hiring several ex-Twitter employees who still had some illegal Twitter documents and electronics in their possession. It is also worthy of note that Threads is not available to European Union (EU) countries because of a data and privacy protection policy Meta is yet to agree to. 

What is Next?

Many people have expressed concern over Threads, with several questions flying in the air, whether it will genuinely be the end of Twitter or is just another case of shiny object syndrome. Then there is also the possibility of legal action from Elon to Zuck.

While the answers remain to be seen, Twitter’s backlash over the last few months makes it vulnerable, but trust time to tell who delivers the winning knockout. 

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