Meta, the company behind Instagram, has introduced a new app called Threads, aimed at users seeking an alternative to Twitter, which is owned by Elon Musk and has undergone frequent changes. Threads is positioned as a text-based version of Instagram, providing a distinct space for real-time updates and public conversations.
The app was launched in over 100 countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan. Notable early users include Gordon Ramsay, Shakira, and Mark Hoyle (known as LadBaby on YouTube).
Screenshots provided to the media reveal that Threads offers a microblogging experience similar to Twitter, suggesting that Meta Platforms is directly challenging the platform following Musk’s controversial ownership, which has led to unpopular changes alienating users and advertisers. Users can like, repost, reply to, or quote threads, with visible counters for likes and replies.
Meta describes Threads as an app focused on text and dialogue, inspired by Instagram’s impact on photo and video sharing. Posts on Threads are limited to 500 characters, surpassing Twitter’s 280-character limit, and can include links, photos, and videos up to five minutes long. Existing Instagram users can log in with their usernames and follow the same accounts on Threads, while new users will need to create an Instagram account.
Meta highlights measures to ensure user safety, including enforcement of Instagram’s community guidelines and tools for controlling mentions and replies. However, privacy concerns have been raised regarding Threads’ data collection practices.
According to the app’s privacy disclosure on the App Store, it could gather various personal information, such as health data, financial details, contacts, browsing and search history, location data, purchases, and sensitive information.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sarcastically pointed out this privacy concern in a tweet, stating, “All your Threads belong to us,” along with a screenshot of the privacy disclosure. Musk responded with a simple “Yeah.”
Meta does not plan to release Threads in the European Union due to the region’s stringent data privacy regulations. The company has informed the Irish Data Privacy Commission, its main privacy regulator for the EU, that it has no immediate plans for a European launch.
While Threads was teased with a listing on the UK App Store, it was not found on the French, German, or Dutch versions, indicating Meta’s decision to delay a European rollout due to regulatory uncertainties.
Analysts are skeptical about the app’s success, considering Meta’s history of launching standalone apps that were later discontinued. Additionally, Meta’s recent layoffs and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s focus on the metaverse raise questions about the company’s priorities.
Experts suggest that Meta might be stretching itself too thin, given the abundance of Twitter alternatives, such as Bluesky, Mastodon, Spill, and Post. News, and Hive, are all vying for market share amid growing frustration with Twitter.
Threads could pose a new challenge for Musk, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion. Musk’s management of the platform has faced criticism, with recent changes including daily viewing limits on tweets to prevent unauthorized data scraping and mandatory paid verification for access to TweetDeck.
The rivalry between Musk and Zuckerberg might extend beyond the virtual realm, as the tech billionaires seemingly agreed to an online exchange proposing a cage match face-off, though it remains uncertain if they will actually follow through with it.