BILLIONAIRE Mark Zuckerberg threw down the gauntlet to his rival Elon Musk by launching a new microblogging app this week but Twitter shouldn’t be “written off just yet”, one expert has said.

Threads, the latest offering from Zuckerberg’s Meta, reportedly saw 30 million users sign up on its first day. A scaled-back offering without hashtags or a search function, many social media users were quick to activate a profile on the mobile app, as long as they had an existing Instagram profile, as were politicians and news outlets.

Some of the first MSPs to set up a profile included First Minister Humza Yousaf, Constitution and Culture Secretary Angus Robertson, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, MP and MSP, as well as fellow Tory MP John Lamont, SNP MPs Alyn Smith, Drew Hendry, and Amy Callaghan, also signed up before lunchtime on Thursday.

READ MORE: I tried Twitter's rival app Threads - here's how it went

However, whether or not the social media app will succeed as Twitter fails is still up in the air.

Twitter has already threatened to sue Meta over the app, claiming it violated the company’s “intellectual property rights”. Twitter even accused Meta of poaching staff, with Musk tweeting, “Competition is fine, cheating is not,” on Thursday as the Threads app was largely welcomed.

“People are probably more looking at Threads as a way to leave Twitter rather than look at Threads in terms of what it offers,” Paul Reilly, senior lecturer in communications, media and democracy at the University of Glasgow, told the Sunday National.

“I do wonder if it doesn't have the key functionality of Twitter, which is to break news and to follow things, and that's hashtag focused. To me, it probably has a limit in terms of how many people will give up on Twitter completely and move there.”

“Unless Twitter does collapse and maybe that does happen,” Reilly (pictured below) added.

The National:

Threads allow users to post up to 500 characters, similar to what Blue Tick Twitter users who pay for verification can access, as well as allowing users to repost, much like the retweet function. Zuckerberg has said he hopes that the “public conversation app” will have over one billion people using it eventually but admitted that it would take some time.

In October last year, thousands of Twitter users set up accounts on Mastodon, but the website isn’t as simple to use and many have fallen off from using it, finding themselves back on Twitter, despite its growing problems.

Reilly said he felt a strong sense of “Deja Vu” at the emergence of Threads, and likened it to the temporary popularity of Mastodon.

He added: “We've been here before with Mastodon. I kind of wonder, is this the same thing?”

“Is it the Twitter killer? We're also having this conversation but Twitter, while it may well have lots of problems, there are still a lot of people that are still on it to see what happens.

READ MORE: Firm who donated to Tories are now Scottish Labour's biggest backer

“I wouldn't be writing off Twitter yet, but clearly, there are major problems at Twitter that we're seeing.”

The app itself became filled with posts from brands, celebrities and politicians who had previously been verified on Instagram in the first days of its existence.

“I'm getting a lot of stuff on Threads which is not directly relevant,” Reilly explained.

“The timeline there is still being polluted with lots of stuff which perhaps people might not want to see but whether or not it's better on those things that hate speech and disinformation.

“I imagine that will be some of the things they will try to focus on to say they're better than Twitter.”

The National:

The toxicity of Twitter is another big issue in the social media sphere. Alan Roden, co-founder of Quantum Communications, a public affairs and strategic communications agency, said that the early feedback was that Threads is a “much warmer space” than Twitter.

“Many companies, public sector organisations, and charities are put off by Twitter, much preferring the positive atmosphere on sites such as LinkedIn, so Threads is likely to be appealing and we’ll encourage clients to consider the new platform,” Roden, former communications director at Scottish Labour, said.

“In terms of political comms though there are some challenges created because of the link with Instagram - many politicians and political journalists keep Insta for personal output and connections, whereas Twitter is their professional space and they don’t want those merged at all.

“And while the Scottish political community is very active on Twitter, it’s often just the converted preaching to the converted, or hurling abuse at opponents, so its impact on campaigns and elections will largely depend on whether it can remain a positive space - which seems quite wishful.”

READ MORE: Scottish Government backs decriminalisation of personal drug use

Scottish Political Twitter, as it is known, is a hotbed of debate, niche jokes and where many users access news and media content. But how likely is it that a whole community will transfer from one app to the other?

“I think it's harder to pack up and move an entire group of people there,” Reilly said.

“Particularly when they're used to the kind of rhythms of Twitter and whether it's following events or following things which are breaking.

“It's still the go to platform for most people that I'm aware of, even though the new Elon Musk is making an absolute Horlicks of how it's operating and then all the problems with it, so even when there's glitches in it people are still on it.”

Scottish politicians were also quick to embrace the platform. SNP MP Martyn Day posted an “advance preview” of his vlog a day early. “It’s advance here for the simple reason [that] I haven’t worked out how to schedule on Threads,” he said.

The National:

Scottish Greens Glasgow councillor Anthony Carroll posted surgery information for constituents, while SNP deputy Westminster group leader Mhairi Black, in a nod to Tweets that had resurfaced from her school days, wrote simply: “Maths is s***e.”

Reilly said that after having a quick scroll through the output of the SNP and Labour on Threads, the posts parties were making were “exactly the same”, but likely harder for people to find than they would be on other websites. Threads also does not have desktop capability yet, and is limited to a mobile phone app.

“I don't see any major differences yet how they would use it. It's whether it's more interactive or not, and I think probably, if you're a politician or a party, you probably want to use this to broadcast, not to talk to people,” he said.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak turns down Scotland's drug decriminalisation plan: 'No.'

“You probably want to use this to put out what you want to do so that's good for what they want to achieve.

“But there is a question mark there about these platforms, it's as if almost every politician or party has to be on them because they think that's where they're going to reach younger people.”

The National: The Threads app asked for a lot of data accessThe Threads app asked for a lot of data access (Image: Meta)

While still in its early days, Reilly raised concerns about the amount of data Meta required of users to sign up, from health and sensitive information to browsing history.

Residents in the EU have been excluded from joining the app, while Meta works out how to make it compliant with the bloc’s much stricter online regulations.

Meta has said the company isn’t offering the app in EU member states as it is not sure about the requirements set out by the Digital Markets Act. As Threads imports personal data from instagram, it has already been described as a “privacy nightmare” by tech journalists.