Instagram’s much-hyped new Twitter-killer app, Threads, is here. And it looks a lot like Twitter. Which is exactly the point.
Many social media users are ready — desperate even — for a solid Twitter replacement, as the app has been going through a particularly rough phase in what many see as its gradual product degeneration under Elon Musk’s leadership. Last weekend, the company started limiting the number of tweets people can read, a questionable business decision that was widely unpopular with users. While there are some alternatives out there, like Mastodon and Bluesky, none have grown to surpass Twitter’s popularity with a critical mass of politically and culturally influential figures.
So Meta-owned Instagram decided to strike while the iron is hot. The Threads app was initially expected to launch later this month, only to be moved up to this Thursday, and now, to today. The app will start to go live for users in 100 countries, although reportedly not in the European Union (more on that later).
“Our vision with Threads is to take what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas,” Instagram’s parent company, Meta, wrote in a company blog post on Wednesday.
Functionally, Threads is similar to Twitter, with some minor differences. You can write short posts of up to 500 characters that include links, photos, and short videos up to five minutes in length. Your Threads feed will be algorithmic, which means it will be populated by a mix of people you follow, and recommended content: much like Instagram now. Twitter gives you the option to toggle between an algorithmic and chronological-based feed of only people you follow. But overall, based on early screenshots of the app shared with Vox, the apps look and feel quite similar.
The main defining feature that separates Threads from Twitter is that it has decentralized ambitions. Meaning that in the future, you should be able to plug your Threads posts into other social media platforms like Mastodon — a very different approach than Twitter, which has been limiting free API access to third-party developers. But the interoperability isn’t ready yet, according to Meta. And it’s also not what many day-to-day users care most about, which is, who’s posting on it and how easy it is to use.
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