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January 10, 2024

Threads vs Bluesky: Meta’s Twitter rival appears to be winning with publishers

But a few major publishers seem to be taking invite-only Bluesky seriously.

By Bron Maher

Six months after it launched, many publishers continue to actively post on Threads despite the Meta-owned platform’s ambivalence to news.

Fellow X/Twitter rival Bluesky, which was launched in February by a group including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, has not been nearly as widely adopted by the news industry.

Still invite-only, Bluesky hit three million accounts on Tuesday, having hit two million in mid-November.

Threads, which allowed users to quickly set up accounts from their existing Instagram profiles, claims to have 100 million monthly active users.

Which news publishers are on Threads and which are on Bluesky?

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said on Threads shortly after launch that, while “politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads… we’re not going to do anything to encourage those verticals”.

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Nonetheless publishers continuing to publish on Threads several times a day include CNN, Metro, The Sun and The Guardian.

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They were joined last month by European publishers such as Corriere della Sera, La Stampa and Le Figaro after Threads made changes to conform with EU data rules, allowing it to belatedly launch there.

Comparatively few news outlets use Bluesky. German titles Der Spiegel and the politics vertical of the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper were the only publications Press Gazette found which run active Bluesky accounts but not Threads accounts.

In contrast, 18 of the 40 publications Press Gazette checked were on Threads but not Bluesky.

But while far more news outlets are using Threads than Bluesky, several publishers appear to have abandoned Meta's platform. The Daily Mail, Channel 4 News and the Jewish Chronicle all previously used the site regularly but have since stopped posting.

The BBC had a number of sub-accounts, although not a main BBC News account, but most - such as the BBC Today Programme - have stopped publishing, with the exception of BBC Woman's Hour and BBC Sport.

Josh Kaplan, the Jewish Chronicle's head of digital, told Press Gazette that for a small team like his Threads was "not worth the effort basically".

He said: "With Twitter, I can automate feeds and make sure all our stories go out. And when they do, they generate conversation because influential people follow us and discuss our stories.

"On Threads, it became pretty clear pretty quick that not only was no one reading our stuff on there, no one cared about the conversations that were happening on it."

A handful of publishers are publishing to both Threads and Bluesky, among them the Financial Times, The Daily Beast, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Irish Times.

The FT in particular has become a major presence on Bluesky, with users frequently joking about the ubiquity of the business paper's journalists on the platform.

Last month the NYT's director of off-platform told Digiday: "We wouldn’t continue being on the platform and maintaining it every day if it wasn’t something that we thought was promising for the future but also currently delivering on the audience.”

Travis Lyles, The Washington Post's deputy director, social, off-platform curation told Press Gazette the publisher was on both platforms because "it’s always important to keep tabs on up-and-coming social media platforms so you can make the right decision for your newsroom and meet readers where they are.

"We currently have the largest account for a news publisher on Bluesky, and traffic from platforms like Bluesky and Threads continues to grow as users diversify their social media usage."

Lyles added that neither platform had yet become a major driver of traffic, and a technical challenge remained "the inability to schedule posts, creating more cumbersome workflows" on both Bluesky and Threads. But he said: "We’re seizing the opportunity to build The Post’s brand on the platforms and experiment with audiences and our content."

It may be easier for larger publishers to experiment than smaller ones like The Jewish Chronicle. Asked how many people staff the Post's presence on the two challenger platforms, Lyles said it has a dedicated social team of 13, "and we split the team in a way that allows us to focus efforts on established platforms, like Instagram, while also building in experimentation on emerging platforms". Three to four staff members rotate daily to work on the platform each day, he said.

But a few publishers aren't bothering with either network

For now actual returns from both platforms appear abstract. For example The New York Times and CNN, which have 2.7 million and 2.6 million followers on Threads respectively, rarely garner more than a few hundred likes on a post.

Perhaps because of this there are several major publishers who have not established themselves on either Bluesky or Threads. For example the UK's Daily Telegraph never made an account on either platform, and while Fox News set up a Threads account, it has never posted on it.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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