And we’re off…
In a clash of tech titans, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has unleashed its long-anticipated Threads app, aiming to dethrone Elon Musk’s embattled Twitter. Promising longer posts, an impressive lineup of celebrity backers, and an uncanny resemblance to its competitor, Threads has hit the app stores with a bang.
Unveiled 15 hours earlier than planned, Threads went live at 7 pm EDT in the US and midnight in the UK. Available for download in 100 countries on Apple and Google app stores, Threads requires users to have an Instagram account to log in. Meta has wasted no time securing celebrity endorsements, with Shakira and Gordon Ramsay among the initial backers. Rumors also circulate that Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama have been approached to join the new app.
Threads, visually similar to Twitter but with its own unique terminology, marks another instance of Meta replicating rival products. The company previously mimicked TikTok’s short-form videos with Instagram’s Reels feature. However, this time, the stakes are higher as Zuckerberg’s Meta takes on Musk’s troubled Twitter.
With longer posts of up to 500 characters, Threads challenges Twitter’s limit of 280 characters. Additionally, Threads allows users to post videos up to five minutes long and share posts as links on other platforms. The app offers essential features such as unfollowing, blocking, restricting, and reporting other users. Furthermore, users can filter out replies containing specific words.
Meta’s launch of Threads coincides with a turbulent period for Twitter. The platform recently imposed tweet viewing limits, citing concerns about data harvesting by companies using AI models. The news of Zuckerberg’s impending release of Threads even led to rumors of a potential cage fight between the Facebook founder and Musk, though no date has been set for this unlikely showdown. Meta has not shied away from expressing its disdain for Musk’s chaotic leadership of Twitter, with one of Zuckerberg’s senior lieutenants stating that creators and public figures seek a “sanely run” Twitter-like platform.
According to Meta, Threads offers a “new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.” The company aims to leverage Instagram’s strengths and expand them to text-based content, creating a positive and creative environment for users to express their ideas. With Twitter boasting a user base of over 250 million and Instagram reportedly reaching 2 billion users, Meta’s Threads hopes to tap into the vast market of social media enthusiasts.
Notably, Meta plans to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the technology behind Mastodon—a decentralized platform allowing account transfers to other services. Meta’s goal is to foster interoperable social networks, enabling Threads users to migrate their accounts and followers to other ActivityPub-supported apps.
The company envisions a future where Threads users can interact with individuals on compatible apps without needing a Threads account, heralding a new era of diverse and interconnected networks. Like Mastodon, Meta foresees the emergence of mini-communities within Threads, each with its own community standards and moderation policies.
Aware of concerns about child safety on its platforms, Meta defaults every UK Threads user under 18 to a private profile, visible only to approved individuals. This move demonstrates Meta’s commitment to addressing criticisms from politicians and campaigners.
Mike Proulx, research director at Forrester, views Threads as yet another copycat move but acknowledges that it arrives during a time of heightened frustration with Twitter. However, Proulx also points out the saturation of Twitter alternatives in the market, including Hive, Bluesky, and Mastodon, which could further fracture the user base seeking alternatives to Twitter.
“The vision for Threads,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared in a post following the app’s launch, “is to create an option and friendly public space for conversation.” The app’s listing emphasizes its role as a platform for communities to come together and discuss a wide range of topics, from current interests to trending discussions.
Users of Threads can post messages of up to 500 characters, leveraging the power of concise yet expressive communication. Meta has made the app available in 100 countries through Apple’s iOS and Android, ensuring widespread access to its latest creation.
Upon downloading Threads, users are prompted to connect their Instagram accounts, customize their profiles, and follow the same accounts they already engage with on Instagram. The app’s interface bears similarities to Twitter, offering a familiar layout, text-based feed, and the ability to repost and quote other Thread posts. Simultaneously, it incorporates elements of Instagram’s aesthetic, allowing users to seamlessly share Threads posts directly to their Instagram Stories. Verified Instagram accounts are automatically verified on Threads, further streamlining the user experience. Thread accounts can be listed as public or private, enabling users to curate their desired level of visibility.
Among the growing list of Twitter rivals, Threads poses the most significant threat to the platform, given Meta’s substantial resources and massive audience. It arrives during a period of turmoil at Twitter, with recent outages and temporary limits imposed on tweet viewing. Elon Musk, owner of Twitter, justified these restrictions as measures to combat data scraping and system manipulation, drawing Meta’s response that they appreciate a “sanely run” platform.
The rivalry between Meta and Twitter has escalated, fueling the ongoing feud between Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Musk tweeted about Threads, sarcastically suggesting Earth’s exclusive dependence on Zuckerberg’s platform. In a playful response, Zuckerberg posted a screenshot of Musk’s tweet on Instagram, captioned, “Send Me Location.”
As Meta ventures into the realm of Threads, it aims to reshape the landscape of public conversation. The battle for dominance in the social media realm intensifies as Zuckerberg and Musk take center stage, each striving to shape the future of digital discourse. With Threads, Meta offers a compelling alternative to Twitter, promising users a vibrant space to express their ideas, opinions, and creativity.
In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, the emergence of Threads introduces a new chapter in the narrative of social media platforms. The competition between Meta and Twitter unfolds, captivating the tech industry and capturing the imagination of millions worldwide. As users and observers await the next move in this epic rivalry, one thing remains certain: the battle for social media supremacy has reached new heights, and the world watches with bated breath.
Boundless / The Momentum Factory