Are Those Skid Marks?

Trying to decipher the actual usage numbers of Xitter and Threads
Growth stalls at Elon Musk’s X
Social media group suffers slowdown as billionaire divides audiences and Mark Zuckerberg launches rival platform


In previously unreleased figures, X said its number of global daily active users in the second quarter of this year was 251mn, a rise of 1.6 per cent from the same period the year before.

This contrasts with the double-digit growth experienced in the years leading up to the acquisition by Musk, who took the listed company private for $44bn in October 2022.

On one hand, I guess it's good news for Xitter that it's not shrinking. On the other, that growth is rough, especially when it remains at a fraction of the size of many Meta properties. Interestingly, the FT doesn't state how it got these numbers or from where – their graph (below) cites "X, Twitter company filings", of which "X" may imply they're leaked numbers from the company itself as "Twitter company filings" likely pertains to the previous usage numbers, before Musk bought Twitter, which the company had to report when it was still a public company.

The piece goes on to cite Sensor Tower, Similarweb, and Apptopia, but for other statistics, not these. And they note that:

X denied the Similarweb figures, saying that its monthly users increased significantly in the US and UK between August last year and June this year, without providing specific figures.

But not any of the other figures?

Anyway, on the topic of Meta, the report cites some data about the just-turned-one Threads too:

Facebook owner Meta launched rival platform Threads a year ago in an effort to challenge X. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg revealed it had grown to 175mn monthly active users. This compares with 600mn monthly users claimed by X.

However, analytics company Sensor Tower estimates Threads has only 38mn daily users — people who open the app at least once a day — suggesting users are using it less frequently than other social media platforms.

You have to take any numbers from third-party data sources with grains of salt (which is part of the reason why I'm so interested in the origin of the FT's main Xitter usage data here), but to spell this out more clearly, according to this data:

  • Xitter: 600M MAUs | 251M DAUs
  • Threads: 175M MAUs | 38M DAUs

42% of Xitter actives using it daily also perhaps speaks to a saturated market. While Threads 22% perhaps implies the opposite – especially since Meta has more clearly given guidance on actual growth. Well, of the MAU number. They specifically haven't given out the DAU (or DAP, as they started calling it spanning all of their networks) numbers, presumably because they weren't great. And these aren't. But certainly growing faster than 1.6% year-on-year!

Threads added 25M MAU in the previous three months, per actual milestones the company shared. If they do that again, they'll hit 200M MAU in October – 1/3rd the size of Xitter, assuming not growth for the latter. At that pace, it would take three more years to catch Xitter – again, assuming no growth (or shrinkage) in Xitter. That can't be good enough for always-growth-focused Meta. Especially as they're already starting to think about and whisper about monetization.

What might they do to change that? What about Xitter?