Meta’s Threads app, designed to rival Twitter, has been officially launched. Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement a day before the scheduled release date of July 6th, which had been visible in app stores earlier in the week. Although Meta has started rolling out the app globally, it won’t be available in the European Union until the company addresses potential regulatory concerns.
In a blog post introducing this new Twitter competitor, Meta described Threads as a “separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.” Initially, the app relies on users’ Instagram credentials but will eventually be compatible with a broader range of decentralized services like Mastodon. For now, Threads users can log in using their existing Instagram accounts. The company will transfer existing usernames and verification status to Threads, but users have the option to further customize their profiles.
Similar to Instagram, Threads heavily relies on recommendations to help users discover new accounts to follow. Meta has quietly tested the service with a select group of celebrities, creators, and its own employees, ensuring that new users won’t be greeted by an empty social network.
The service itself bears a striking resemblance to Twitter, although its design will feel familiar to Instagram users. It allows text posts of up to 500 characters, as well as photos and videos up to five minutes in length. Threads also features reposts (similar to retweets) and quote posts. Users can customize their replies, block and report other users, and easily share Threads posts to their Instagram Story for greater visibility.
Meta’s launch of Threads comes at a tumultuous time for Twitter, following Elon Musk’s introduction of strict rate limits that significantly limited the number of posts users could view. Twitter also temporarily stopped showing tweets to logged-out users, before backtracking on the decision. Musk, who has expressed dissatisfaction with AI companies training their platforms using Twitter data, attributed these unpopular moves to “data scraping.”
With Threads, Meta aims to challenge not only Twitter but also the growing wave of Twitter alternatives like Mastodon. The company plans to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open-source protocol that powers Mastodon and other decentralized services collectively known as the “Fediverse.”
Meta stated in a blog post, “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.” This means users from Mastodon and other ActivityPub-supported services will be able to follow and engage with public-facing posts on Threads. Private accounts on Threads can still manually approve new followers from other services. Additionally, other developers could develop their own Threads-compatible features and services in the future.
The timeline for fully integrating ActivityPub into Threads remains uncertain. Instagram head Adam Mosseri mentioned the company’s commitment to the protocol in an early post about the service, but no specific timeframe was provided. The impact of ActivityPub integration on content moderation and safety concerns is also unclear. While Threads follows Instagram’s content moderation policies, services built by other developers can set their own standards, similar to the different instances on Mastodon with their unique guidelines and norms. Meta emphasizes that this approach grants users the freedom to choose spaces aligned with their values.
Currently, the main question surrounding Threads is whether it can successfully establish itself as a viable alternative to Twitter. Since Musk’s involvement with Twitter, users have increasingly sought out alternative platforms like Mastodon, Bluesky, and T2. However, none have come close to achieving the scale of Twitter, let alone Meta. Nonetheless, with over 1 billion Instagram users, Zuckerberg and Meta are undoubtedly hoping to gain momentum more rapidly than other decentralized upstarts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Twitter alternative
What is Threads?
Threads is a text-based app developed by Meta to rival Twitter. It serves as a separate space for real-time updates and public conversations, offering features similar to Instagram.
How do I access Threads?
You can log into Threads using your existing Instagram account. Initially, the app relies on Instagram credentials, but Meta plans to make it compatible with other decentralized services in the future.
Can I customize my Threads profile?
Yes, you have the option to further customize your Threads profile. While Meta carries over existing usernames and verification status from Instagram, users can personalize their profiles as they prefer.
How does Threads help users discover new accounts to follow?
Similar to Instagram, Threads heavily relies on recommendations to assist users in discovering new accounts. This feature aims to provide a seamless and engaging experience on the platform.
What features does Threads offer?
Threads allows text posts of up to 500 characters, as well as the sharing of photos and videos up to five minutes in length. It supports reposts (similar to retweets), quote posts, and provides options to limit replies, block and report users.
Can I share Threads posts on Instagram?
Yes, you can easily share your Threads posts to your Instagram Story, enhancing their visibility and reach to your Instagram followers.
Will Threads be compatible with other decentralized services?
Meta has plans to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open-source protocol powering Mastodon and other decentralized services. This compatibility would enable users from different platforms to follow and interact with public-facing posts on Threads.
How long will it take for ActivityPub integration into Threads?
The timeline for fully integrating ActivityPub into Threads is currently uncertain. Meta has expressed its commitment to the protocol, but no specific timeframe has been provided.
How does Threads handle content moderation and safety?
Threads follows Meta’s content moderation policies, which are similar to those of Instagram. However, the integration of ActivityPub could introduce variations in content moderation and safety standards, as different developers and services may set their own guidelines and norms.
Can Threads become a viable alternative to Twitter?
Threads aims to challenge Twitter and other Twitter alternatives, leveraging Meta’s vast user base from Instagram. The success of Threads as a viable alternative will depend on its ability to gather momentum quickly and offer unique features and experiences to users.
More about Twitter alternative
- Meta’s Threads app – Official announcement by Meta about the Threads app.
- Mastodon – Information about Mastodon, one of the decentralized services Threads aims to be compatible with.
- ActivityPub – Details about the open-source protocol ActivityPub, which powers Mastodon and other decentralized services.
- Instagram – The official website of Instagram, the platform whose credentials Threads initially relies on.
- Twitter – Official website of Twitter, the platform that Threads aims to challenge as an alternative.
- Elon Musk – Elon Musk’s Twitter profile, mentioned in relation to recent changes on the platform.
- Bluesky – Information about Bluesky, another alternative platform mentioned in the text.
- T2 – GitHub repository for T2, another Twitter alternative.
- Fediverse – Wikipedia page explaining the concept of the Fediverse, the collection of interconnected decentralized social networks.