The feud between tech giants Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk has escalated in the past few weeks. The bizarre sequence of events unfolded as Zuckerberg’s Meta — the company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp — launched a new social media platform modeled after Musk’s Twitter. The new platform, Threads, much like Twitter, allows users to share their thoughts in under-500-word posts and link their accounts directly to their Instagram accounts.

The Beginning of The Feud

The tiff started when the Twitter owner commented on a June 21, 2023 tweet from user @MariaNawfal discussing the rumor of Threads’ launch — then still known under the codename “Project 92.” In it, Musk said, “I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck’s thumb with no other options.” and that he was “up for a cage match if he [Zuckerberg] is.”

Those first Tweets were the opening salvos that prompted Zuckerberg to post a screenshot of Musk’s Tweet with the caption, “Send me location” on his Instagram story. On July 12, Zuckerberg posted a visibly more muscular photo of himself training with MMA stars Israel Adesanya and Alex Volkanovski in an apparent response to Musk’s first proclamation.

It didn’t stop there, however. Musk continued throwing jabs at the Facebook co-founder by tweeting, “Zuck is a ____ [man whose wife is unfaithful],” then proposing a contest to measure their private parts. Zuckerberg’s response was more subtle: upon Threads’ official launch on July 6, he returned to Twitter for the first time in 10 years, posting the popular meme of two Spider-Men pointing at each other.

Their war of words continued with Musk tweeting, “Censorship pays them well” in response to a Tweet labeling Facebook as a “misinformation spreading machine.” At the same time, Zuckerberg used his new Threads platform to leave several snarky emoji responses to posts referencing the much-publicized squabble.

Current Conditions

All this unfolds as Threads breaks records as the fastest-growing platform in history. The app has gained over 100 million users within five days of its release. In comparison, the previous record holder for the same feat was ChatGPT, which gained its first 100 million users in two months. Threads has amassed nearly a quarter of Twitter’s 450 million active users in just days, and it’s still growing.

Twitter, however, continues to face headwinds since Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the bird app in 2022. The Tesla and SpaceX founder has made several controversial decisions at the company. Soon after the purchase was finalized, Musk laid off nearly 80% of Twitter’s employees in a cost-cutting measure.

He also disbanded the app’s content moderation team, replacing it with Community Notes, sparking users’ concerns that it could trigger the proliferation of hate speech. He also instituted a new policy charging users $8 monthly for “Verified” blue check marks.

In a move that attracted massive media criticism, Musk also reinstated previously banned accounts belonging to the likes of Jordan Peterson and Donald Trump, while also suspending accounts linked to anti-fascism movements and LGBTQ+ protections, as well as some staunch critics of Musk himself – most notably ElonJet, a widely-followed account tracking Musk’s private jets in real-time.

In its latest controversial move, Twitter began limiting the number of Tweets users can see daily. The timing of the last move couldn’t have been better for Zuckerberg, who launched Threads just days after the Twitter quota went into effect.

The Tiff Doesn’t Stop There

This is not the first time the two billionaires have engaged in public squabbles. In 2016, Zuckerberg criticized Musk after SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed a Facebook satellite meant to provide free internet access in Africa. The following year, Musk pushed back on Zuckerberg’s response to his skepticism around the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), taking to Twitter to say: “(Zuckerberg’s) understanding of the subject is limited.” In 2018, Musk joined the #DeleteFacebook movement by deactivating the official accounts of SpaceX and Tesla on the platform.

As the two duke it out on each other’s platforms, Musk and Zuckerberg remain among the world’s biggest earners. As of 2023, Musk’s net worth is estimated at $248 billion, while Zuckerberg’s fortune is $111 billion, according to Forbes data.

How Will It End?

The jury is out on whether Threads can maintain its current rapid growth. But one thing is clear: the open social media warfare between Twitter and Threads is only abetting the latter’s rise. It made headlines in outlets from Vox to CNN, giving the masses more awareness of the developing social media app. For his part, Zuckerberg’s Meta has observed his rival’s missteps and learned from them. With its decision not to promote hard news or political content, Threads distances itself from the criticism Twitter has received for its political leanings.

The move is also a departure from Meta’s past mishandling of Facebook during the 2016 US Presidential Election. That led to Zuckerberg being called to testify before the Senate in 2018. Threads’ instant connectivity to Instagram’s 1.6 billion-plus active monthly users means it’s only just scratching the surface of its potential. With Twitter’s performance down significantly since Musk took over the company, it’s time for the mogul to make plans that don’t include publicly taunting his competitor.

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.