Social network Twitter is facing a challenging period after it emerged that advertising income has halved since Elon Musk took over in October last year.

Musk’s Twitter buyout started off as a controversial move, and has continued in this vein throughout – not least after the multi-billionaire laid off around 7,500 staff, reinstated previously banned accounts, and introduced new features that have been poorly received by vast swathes of account holders.

It seems that users aren’t the only ones falling out of love with Twitter, but advertisers as well. In under a year the social network has lost just under half of its ad revenue as companies pull out to spend their money elsewhere.

As Twitter was already struggling with large debts, these recent withdrawals are thought to have left Musk with a bill of $13 billion (£10.1bn) needing to be paid by the end of July.

To make matters worse, Twitter has a new rival platform created by none other than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Clearly sensing an opportunity, Zuckerberg unveiled Threads – which bears more than a passing resemblance to Twitter. It works alongside Instagram – which Facebook also owns – to make it easy for those with one account to set up on the other.

Far from being a vanity project or a trial, however, Threads has amassed an enormous following in just a matter of weeks, with over 150 million people around the world thought to have registered since it officially went live on 5 July.

Although Twitter is still considerably further ahead (with around 350 million active users) this speedy start is sure to worry Musk – even if he hopes Threads goes the way of Mastodon and the like, which showed great promise but never managed to capture mass attention in the longer term.

For his part, the Twitter chief is looking to turn fortunes around by pivoting his platform to focus more on video, as well as creator and commerce partnerships. It’s hoped that ongoing talks with political and entertainment figures, as well as news and media publishers, could signal the upswing in ad revenue he so desperately needs.