Threads: The Emerging Player in Political Communication

Battling for Dominance in the Digital Sphere

Tamrah Chalom

Category: Strategy


As Twitter—now X—faces financial challenges and dwindling traffic amid major rebranding efforts, Meta’s Threads is making waves in the political landscape. With over 118 million users, including prominent political figures, Threads has the potential to be a new space for politics and policy conversations.

Unlike Bluesky, Truth Social, and other Twitter competitors, Threads has successfully garnered bipartisan participation. Within its first week, roughly 194 representatives and 48 senators—almost half of Congress—created accounts, and several 2024 presidential candidates are actively posting. As of late July, though, front-runners Biden, Trump, and DeSantis have yet to appear on the platform.

Some policymakers are gravitating toward the app because of frustration with Twitter’s limitations, such as the daily number of tweets and messages users can read, send, and post. Others are merely testing the waters or hedging their bets: According to Roll Call, political aides are creating Threads accounts “just in case it takes off, not because they really expect it to.” Regardless of their reasons, most congressional staffers who join Threads aren’t abandoning Twitter, and neither is the general public.

Despite Threads’ formidable launch—over 100 million people joined in less than a week, making it the fastest-growing online platform—momentum dropped quickly. The number of active users fell from 44 million on July 7 to 13 million on July 21, with average daily app time decreasing from 19 minutes to four minutes. Meanwhile, Twitter reports 200 million active users a day, each spending an average of 30 minutes on the platform.

For policymakers evaluating Threads’ potential as a strategic communications tool, it’s important to note that its current iteration harbors several obstacles. For instance, there is no desktop version nor integration with scheduling platforms, which makes it challenging to post on multiple accounts simultaneously. Another barrier is the lack of hashtags and a robust search function, making it difficult to follow news and network effectively. Finally, Meta hasn’t yet implemented branded content tools for paid promotions. While Meta is working to add these and other features, the timeline is unknown. 

“Without paid media, Threads does not currently offer a way for those seeking to influence policy to get their message in front of policymakers,” says NJI Senior Account Director Dan Kemether. “While Meta’s other platforms are highly conducive to first-party data targeting, the social media conglomerate notoriously reduced its targeting capabilities to reach policymakers programmatically in 2021.”

Even when Threads unveils advertising capabilities—Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly waiting to hit the 1 billion user mark—it may take time for the platform to become a significant channel for political influence. 

“Given Meta’s trajectory of measures to reduce its footprint in influencing politics, and Threads’ absence of paid media, there is a long road ahead before the platform can influence public policy campaigns,” Kemether says.

Earlier this month, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, posted that Meta is “not going to do anything to encourage” politics or hard news on the platform. Even so, political discourse has already reached the app, with topics ranging from Sen. Mitch McConnell’s health to Hunter Biden’s deal with federal prosecutors. 

According to one expert, it’s inevitable that news and politics will dominate Threads’ discussions, given the nature of the text-based platform. How well the platform can be leveraged to shape public policy campaigns, however, will hinge on its future targeting capabilities and the composition of its user base—most notably, the active participation of influential political and media figures

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