Meta Launches Twitter Rival Threads

Meta Platforms has, as expected, officially launched its rival to Twitter on Thursday, with a new app called Threads, that has been built by the Instagram team.

Meta’s launch of the “open and friendly” iOs and Android app in 100 countries includes the US and UK. However it is reported that the EU is excluded for now due to concerns with the EU’s Digital Markets Act.

The timing of the direct challenge to Twitter has been noted by industry observers, as Meta seeks to take advantage of problems at Twitter under the chaotic ownership of Elon Musk, who last month publicly challenge Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.

Threads logo.
Image credit Meta Platforms

Threads App

Threads offers a Twitter-like interface and is designed for sharing text updates and joining public conversations.

Users log in using their Instagram account and posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length.

That said, it does not currently include any direct message capabilities.

Image credit Meta Platforms

Threads has been developed by the Instagram team as an add-on app. This could be a smart move, and is makes for easy integration with Instagram’s more than 2 billion monthly active users.

That said, users are offered the ability to customise their profile specifically for Threads. Those under 16 years old will be defaulted to a private profile.

Just like on Instagram, with Threads a user can follow and connect with friends and creators who share their interests – including the people they already follow on Instagram.

Image credit Meta Platforms

The feed will includes Threads posted by people the user already follows, as well as recommended content from new creators a user has not discovered yet.

A Threads post can be “easily” shared to a user’s Instagram story, or the post can be shared as a link on any other platform the user chooses.

“We built Threads with tools to enable positive, productive conversations,” wrote Meta. “You can control who can mention you or reply to you within Threads. Like on Instagram, you can add hidden words to filter out replies to your threads that contain specific words. You can unfollow, block, restrict or report a profile on Threads by tapping the three-dot menu, and any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads.”

Open app?

Meta said it is “working toward making Threads compatible with the open, interoperable social networks that we believe can shape the future of the internet.”

Meta said it is planning to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open social networking protocol established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body responsible for the open standards that power the modern web.

Image credit Meta Platforms

This would make Threads interoperable with other apps that also support the ActivityPub protocol, such as Mastodon and WordPress.

“We’re committed to giving you more control over your audience on Threads – our plan is to work with ActivityPub to provide you the option to stop using Threads and transfer your content to another service,” said Meta. “Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa, ushering in a new era of diverse and interconnected networks.”

Round one

“Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in his first post on the app, along with a fire emoji. He said the app logged 10 million sign-ups in seven hours.

He added the following Reels video as well, found here, in which Zuckerberg repeatedly stressed that Threads will be a friendly community – in stark contrast to the toxic environment commonly found on Twitter.

According to Zuckerberg the app was downloaded 10 million times in the space of seven hours.

Zuckerberg also took to Twitter, posting a meme of Spiderman facing off against Spiderman – in a humorous jab at the rivalry with Musk and between the two services.

Zuckerberg also responded to a user who predicted Twitter’s demise about an hour after the Threads launch, and he cautioned patience. “We’re only in the opening moments of the first round here,” he reportedly said.

Threads has already seen a number of high profile additions from big names on Twitter, including celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, as well as US politicians such as US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“May this platform have good vibes, strong community, excellent humor, and less harassment,” Ocasio-Cortez reportedly said in her post.

The arrival of Threads takes advantage of Instagram’s already huge user-base, plus its established advertising operation. Threads could also could potentially pose a monetary challenge to Twitter, which is scrambling to restore advertising revenues that fled the Elon Musk platform after his take over.

Instagram Threads

Meta has been developing a Twitter rival for a good few years now.

Back in August 2019, it was reported that Facebook was developing a new app called Threads, built on top of Instagram, which was designed to help share data between close personal friends.

Then last month it was reported that Meta had shown screenshots of its planned Twitter rival to staff in an internal meeting.

Meta chief product officer Chris Cox reportedly told the meeting that there was a demand from creators and public figures for “a platform that is sanely run, that they believe that they can trust and rely upon for distribution”.

There is little doubt that Cox’s remarks refer to Twitter under controversial owner Elon Musk, who took over the platform last October.

Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey meanwhile is backing the launch of a decentralised Twitter rival called Bluesky.

Bluesky reportedly experienced record “record-high traffic” Saturday after Elon Musk said Twitter will temporarily limit the number of posts users can read per day.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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