The social media landscape has been static for several years. But the launch of Threads, rolled out by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sparked debate because of its resemblance with the existing microblogging site, Twitter which boasts over 368 million monthly active users as of December 2022.
Threads offer users the ability to post and share text, images, and videos and interact with other users’ posts through replies, reposts, and likes. It is closely connected to the Meta platform’s Instagram and requires users to have an Instagram account and use Threads under the same handle.
The launch hasn’t been without controversies, igniting a burgeoning rivalry between Threads and Twitter. But let’s dive into more details about the new app that has taken the social media realm by storm.
Threads: Functions and Features
Threads – text-based public conversation app debuted to worldwide acclaim after launching on July 5th, 2023, by Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
In order to access Meta’s Threads application, individuals are required to download it from either the App Store or Google Play Store. Once downloaded, users can log in through their Facebook or Instagram credentials. The app will subsequently guide users through the process of setting up a profile and choosing their areas of interest. At this point, users are able to commence sharing text updates and participating in public discussions.
Threads offers its users the capability to create text posts of up to 500 characters, enabling them to include links, photos, and videos with a maximum duration of five minutes.
The app also allows users to manage their interactions by letting them have control over who can mention or respond to them. Similar to Instagram’s functionality, users can incorporate hidden keywords to filter out replies to their threads that contain specific terms.
Users can further regulate their experience on the platform with features such as unfollow, block, restrict, or report profiles by accessing the three-dot menu. Accounts that have been blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads as well.
Despite the hype, users have expressed their frustration over unusual limitations on profile customization. The deletion of the Threads account, for one, will result in the deletion of a user’s Instagram account as well.
This shows that the two platforms are so deeply intertwined that the removal of one will inevitably wipe out the other. The company said that it is looking into a way to delete your Threads profile separately, but for now, deactivating the Threads account appears to be the only alternative that won’t affect a user’s Instagram account.
Note: Users can only deactivate their profile once a week.
Furthermore, in the case where a user has connected their Facebook and Instagram accounts, any desired changes to their name on Threads must first be made on Facebook. Similarly, modifying the username on Threads requires updating the corresponding Instagram profile as well.
Threads application is yet to incorporate a direct messaging functionality. It also lacks a desktop version that certain users, especially business organizations, rely on.
Currently, Threads do not have hashtags and keyword search functions, thereby restricting both its appeal to advertisers as well as its utility as a venue for following real-time events, a feature that is prominent on Twitter.
Not Available in Europe
Meta faces legal and regulatory hurdles in the European Union due to this approach.
Furthermore, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) imposes restrictions on the aggregation of data for advertising purposes by prominent digital platforms. Meta has expressed concerns about the application of the DMA to its data practices, which has reportedly contributed to the delay of Threads’ launch in the bloc.
Limitations asides, Threads has received an astonishing reception, crossing 100 million sign-ups within five days of launch, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The app has emerged as the reigning champion after dramatically surpassing OpenAI-owned ChatGPT as the fastest-growing online platform.
Threads even managed to claim the top spot among free apps on the App Store.
The Great Beef: Mark Zuckerberg vs Elon Musk
The arrival of Threads, which was spun out of Instagram, is designed to serve as a prime place for public, real-time conversations. It has considerably shaken up the scene. The bone of contention lies in the resemblance when it comes to its user interface and other basic features. While the new app could end up a fad, it could also be a potent threat to Twitter, which has retained its crown as a hub of conversation for more than a decade.
Threads leverage Instagram’s extensive user base of 2.35 billion individuals instead of starting from scratch and building its own user community. The launch of Threads comes amid a period of prolonged turmoil for Twitter under its new owner Elon Musk who appears not amused by the new app. He tweeted, “Competition is fine; cheating is not.”
The already existing feud between Zuckerberg and Musk first started when the Meta chief’s $200 million satellite exploded in a pre-launch test accident on one of Musk’s SpaceX rockets. Over the years, both tech behemoths have taken subtle jabs at each other, with talks about a bizarre “cage match” hitting the headlines more recently. But the conflict has intensified between the duo as a result of Threads’ rise to prominence.
Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, even threatened to sue Meta over its new Threads app, alleging the Zuckerberg-led company of engaging in “systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”
In Twitter’s cease-and-desist, Spiro leveled accusations against Meta, claiming that over the past year, the social media giant had recruited numerous former employees, some of whom possessed and currently have access to Twitter’s “trade secrets” and other “confidential information.” Spiro further alleged that “many” of these individuals have improperly retained Twitter documents or electronic devices.
With the rivalry slowly turning into a legal battle, it will be interesting to see if the two billionaires choose to settle their differences in the cage or in the courtroom.
Amidst numerous concerns about Twitter’s unpredictable rules and declining quality, the timing of Thread’s release holds particular intrigue. Threads arrives with a bold claim, presenting itself as a potential “Twitter rival” and earning the label of a “Twitter killer” by certain sections of the media.
However, only time will unveil whether this new application is successful in capturing the same cultural cachet that Twitter once did.