Instagram Threads is ready for a Trending Topics feature in opposition to X

In a bid to enhance its competitiveness in comparison to X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram’s Threads is gearing up to introduce a highly sought-after feature: Trends. The leak of this development was inadvertently unveiled by a Threads employee in a screenshot over the weekend, where it displayed a numbered list of trending topics and the number of “threads” actively discussing each topic.

User Willian Max was the one to spot this post, surmising that it was intended for internal sharing among Meta employees. Prior reports by 9to5Mac and Mashable had already hinted at this forthcoming addition.

The image showcased popular trends, with Drake’s new album taking the top spot, alongside current topics such as Billboard’s Latin Music Week and the release of Loki Season 2 on Disney+. Instagram has yet to officially comment on these reports.

However, unlike X itself, Threads’ primary Trends list does not seem to include other topic-specific trending lists like News, Sports, Entertainment, or personalized “For You” trends.

Nevertheless, this addition marks another step towards making Threads more competitive with X, as the Instagram-owned app seeks to attract users away from the constantly evolving Elon Musk-owned microblogging network. Threads is not alone in this endeavor, with other companies like open-source Mastodon, Jack Dorsey-backed app Bluesky, and startups like Pebble and Spill also vying for a piece of the pie.

Since its rapid rise to 100 million users shortly after its July 5 launch, Threads has experienced declining usage. However, the Threads team has been actively introducing new features to bolster the app, including support for a chronological feed, a web app, profile switching, the ability to view liked posts, and most importantly, search functionality. Yet, search alone may not suffice to rival X. The combination of search and trends is what has made X a go-to platform for breaking news and timely conversations, something Threads has yet to fully master.

Recent reports have suggested internal deliberations within Threads about how much emphasis to place on news, with senior leadership displaying some reluctance due to potential challenges. Meta has grappled with similar issues over the years, as the circulation of news on Facebook led to divisions among users and the proliferation of inflammatory and fake news.

In response to a recent Threads post claiming the company’s apprehension about incorporating news, Instagram head Adam Mosseri stated, “We’re not anti-news; news is already on Threads. We’re simply trying to avoid over-promising and under-delivering to an incredibly powerful group, which is a mistake we’ve made as a company many times in the past.”

This cautious approach to news and trends is reflected in Threads’ previous actions, such as blocking certain terms from its search feature, including “covid,” “long covid,” “vaccination,” and other terms of explicit nature. Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO, has also emphasized Threads’ aspiration to cultivate a more positive and friendly atmosphere for discussions, in contrast to X, which is often characterized by negativity and criticism.

However, aiming for a “good vibes only” environment may not necessarily position Threads as a direct rival to X, as news tends to generate strong reactions and opinions.

Furthermore, it remains uncertain whether the addition of Trends will persuade users to abandon X in favor of Threads, as previous highly anticipated features have had limited impact, including the launch of the web app.

According to Similarweb, Threads’ Android app usage experienced a decline in its first month, dropping from 49.2 million on July 7 to 10.3 million a month later. Data from August 2023 by reports that Threads currently boasts a total of 135 million global monthly active users, significantly fewer than X’s estimated 666 million.

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