Meta is looking to cash in on the Twitter exodus with its new rival app, Threads.
Launching on Thursday 6 July, the app seeks to mimic the format of the popular micro-blogging social media site.
Although the latest move from the parent company of Facebook and Instagram has been treated with much trepidation and scepticism since its announcement, it could well signal the end of Twitter as we know it.
Although there has been no official announcement from Meta, the company added the app to the Apple App Store on 3 July ahead of its release.
“Say more with Threads — Instagram’s text-based conversation app,” the app’s description reads.
“Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today, to what’ll be trending tomorrow.
“Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favourite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world”.
It’s no secret that Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter last year has not exactly gone to plan. Hoards of users and advertisers have been exiting the once-dominant platform and competitors have been popping up all over the shop to cater to them.
Rivals like Mastodon, BlueSky, and Spill, have become the go-to for users tired of Musk’s antics and the influx of controversial, formerly-banned accounts. What those apps and others like them lack however is name recognition and the financial and technical power to make a significant dent in Twitter. With Meta, things are different.
Journalist Kalley Huang has written that Meta has been planning a “Twitter-killing” app since November last year. The app is designed explicitly to capitalise on the chaos that has reigned over Twitter in the past 10 months. After a series of leaks and cryptic statements by Meta insiders, Threads is now ready to go live.
Tellingly, Meta has tied their new app to Instagram. The tagline for the app is “Instagram for your thoughts” and, while Threads will be a standalone app, it will be integrated with a user’s Instagram account.
Digital media expert Lia Haberman has written that Threads will share sign-in with an Instagram username and password. It will also allow you to synch with your existing Instagram followers and carry over your Instagram handle, bio, and even your blue tick if you have one.
Threads is thought to allow text posts of up to 500 characters. Posts can include links, photos, and videos of up to five minutes. Much like Twitter, users will be able to like, reply, and repost Thread posts. From what we’ve seen so far, they’re virtually identical apps.
On the safety front, the Threads app will enforce the same community guidelines as Instagram. The app will allow you to control who can reply to your posts and will carry over your blocked accounts and hidden words from Insta.
Haberman shares that there is currently “no set plan for monetisation being shared.” This suggests that Threads may not have ads to start with. The move is an aggressive organic strategy designed to bring in users from the get-go.
The Death of Twitter?
In total, Meta porting users from Instagram will make Threads instantly far larger than Twitter. Instagram has four times as many active monthly users as Twitter and, with a shared login, the platform is likely to vastly outweigh Twitter overnight.
This being said, previous Instagram experimentations have not performed as well as the company would have liked. Recent tweaks, like the ability to share a note, have been underused. Instagram users have long complained that Meta risks tinkering the platform to death.
At the same time, Meta has a history of successfully pulling off the replication of other apps. Instagram Reels was the company’s response to TikTok while Instagram Stories saw off competition from Snapchat.
It goes without saying that the release of Threads is bad news for Musk and for Twitter. The app recently restricted the number of tweets that users can see in an effort to combat “data scraping.” It also removed the ability for brands to schedule their content on Twitter by putting TweetDeck behind a paywall. This is the latest of Musk’s efforts to try and push people to pay for Twitter’s premium service, Twitter Blue.
Much of the design of Threads seems to be directly designed to respond to these Twitter user complaints. The app will be free to use, with no restrictions on viewing limits.