Meta's new app 'Threads' challenges Twitter's dominance, offering a fresh take on text-focused social media. Will it have long term success or will early success unravel.
In a surprise move that has sent ripples through the social media landscape, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has launched Threads, a new social media platform. This Instagram companion app, which is being hailed as Twitter’s new chief rival, was launched a day earlier than expected, according to reports from Forbes.
Threads, which shares a similar format with Twitter, is widely seen as Elon Musk’s most significant competition since the billionaire took over the social media platform. The launch was announced on Wednesday evening, catching many industry observers off guard.
“Meta’s Threads app was launched Wednesday evening in a surprise announcement,” reported Antonio Pequeño. The app is now live on Apple’s App Store and is linked to users’ Instagram accounts, offering a real-time platform that allows text posts of up to 500 characters.
In the first few hours of its launch, Threads has already seen a surge in user sign-ups. “Meta rolled out Threads—its long-rumoured rival to Twitter—on Wednesday evening in a surprise announcement and has since then racked up more than 10 million users,” reported Siladitya Ray, a Forbes Staff member covering breaking news and tech policy stories. This rapid adoption suggests that Threads could be a serious rival to the Elon Musk-owned social platform.
While Threads appears very similar to Twitter on the surface, the platform features key changes to the formula, which makes it more similar to Facebook and Instagram. The most significant difference between the two platforms is the timeline. As Meta’s app only displays an algorithmic timeline—in a similar vein to Facebook and Instagram—it offers no option for a Twitter-like reverse chronological time showing the most recent posts.
Threads is also a mobile-only experience at the moment. Users can only make posts, write comments, and follow people on the platform’s mobile app, unlike Twitter, which allows all of this on its website as well.
Interestingly, Threads is currently unavailable in the European Union due to competition concerns, according to a POLITICO report by Matt Honeycombe-Foster. And while we are being ironic, some British politicians, including Energy Secretary Grant Shapps and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly are touting it as a Brexit dividend.
Despite the promising launch of Meta’s Threads, the app currently lacks some key functionalities. The most notable absence is the ability to share a thread outside the platform, limiting the reach of discussions to only those within the app.
According to Meta’s official statement, they are working towards making Threads compatible with open, interoperable social networks, which would allow Threads to interact with other apps supporting the ActivityPub protocol. However, until this feature is implemented, the lack of external thread sharing may prove a significant limitation to early adoption.
Elon Musk, the current owner of Twitter, SpaceX and Tesla (among others’), has yet to make an official statement about the launch of Threads. However, his reaction to this new competitor is eagerly anticipated by the tech world.
Despite the initial success, Threads still has a long way to go. It needs to attract more users, especially from the top-followed accounts on Instagram and Twitter. It also needs to address the lack of a desktop version and the absence of features like hashtags and a trending section, which are key elements of Twitter’s identity.
However, with the backing of Meta, a company with a $756 billion market cap, Threads is expected to be a far more significant threat to Twitter than similar text-focused social media platforms.
As the social media landscape continues to evolve, all eyes will be on how Threads navigates its path and how Twitter responds to this new challenger. The stage is set for an intriguing battle for social media supremacy.