In a remarkable feat, Threads, the latest venture by social media giant Meta, amassed a staggering ten million sign-ups within its first seven hours of launch. With an aim to captivate a significant portion of Instagram’s 2.35 billion active users, the platform has already made its presence felt. Instagram users, including myself, were greeted with notifications alerting them to the inaugural activity of some of their followers on the Threads app.
For anyone familiar with Twitter, the resemblance between Threads and this newest social medium is striking. Threads, aptly named to evoke one of Twitter‘s popular functions where users can link multiple tweets, made its debut on Thursday, July 6. Described as a “text-based conversation app” in its listing on the Apple Store, Threads allows users to share their thoughts and everyday observations with their audience.
This novel app is primarily a response to the widespread dissatisfaction among Twitter users following the series of substantial changes implemented since Elon Musk acquired the platform in October 2022. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, expressed his vision for Threads, stating on the platform, “to keep it friendly as it expands,” emphasising that such an approach is key to its success. When questioned on Threads about the app’s potential to surpass Twitter, Zuckerberg responded, “It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully, we will.”
To shed light on this much-discussed social media platform, here’s everything you need to know about Threads:
What Is Threads?
Threads is Instagram’s “text-based conversation app,” as indicated by its app listing. It serves as a meeting place for communities to engage in discussions encompassing a wide range of topics. From current interests to upcoming trends. At present, it bears a striking resemblance to Twitter.
The app’s description continues. highlighting that users can follow and directly connect with their favourite creators and individuals who share their passions. Alternatively, users can cultivate their own loyal following to share their ideas, opinions, and creativity with the world.
Threads permits users to share individual posts of up to 500 characters, surpassing Twitter’s 280-character limit. Additionally, users can include links, photos, or videos up to five minutes long—compared to Twitter’s video length limit of two minutes and 20 seconds. Similar to Instagram and Twitter, Threads employs an algorithm-based timeline that prioritises highly-engaging posts, placing them at the top of the timeline. It adheres to the same “Community Guidelines” as Instagram, including restrictions on spam and nudity.
How Do I Get Started on Threads?
Existing Instagram users can seamlessly transfer their username and followers to Threads, granting this platform an advantage over other Twitter-like platforms such as Mastodon and BlueSky. These alternatives have witnessed a slow migration of users following Elon Musk’s takeover. If you are already on Instagram, simply download the Threads app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and sign in using your Instagram account details. However, if you are not yet on Instagram, you will need to create an Instagram account as Threads is powered by Instagram.
It is worth noting that, at the time of writing, deleting your Threads account appears to necessitate deleting your Instagram account as well.
How Is Threads Different From Twitter?
Drawing comparisons between Threads and its Twitter counterpart is inevitable. As previously mentioned, Threads allows for more extended content formats compared to Twitter, with a character limit of 500 and a video length limit of five minutes. However, Threads currently lacks a “Direct Message” function—a feature that may be added in response to user feedback at a later date.
One intriguing development on the horizon is the potential for users to assume “ownership” of their follower list. Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri, revealed that Threads plans to integrate a protocol called ActivityPub, which powers decentralised social networks like Mastodon. This protocol enables users to “own” their follower list and seamlessly transition to another social platform if desired. While the intricacies of this mechanism are yet to be widely understood. It might resemble an email list, allowing newsletter creators to migrate their community across different platforms such as Substack and MailChimp.