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All You Need to Know About Threads: Meta’s New Twitter Rival Explained

Threads, the text version of Meta‘s Instagram, launched globally on Wednesday night in over 100 countries, including the U.S., Britain, Australia, Canada, and Japan. By Thursday noon, 30 million users had signed up, according to Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO. Celebrities such as Oprah, Shakira, and Gordon Ramsay, along with corporate accounts from Taco Bell, Netflix, Spotify, and the Washington Post, have joined the platform.

All You Need to Know About Threads: Meta's New Twitter Rival Explained
(Image credit: The Guardian)

Threads is a new app from Meta, offering a separate space for real-time updates and public conversations. Many people seek alternatives to Twitter due to Elon Musk’s influential control over the platform, following his $44 billion acquisition last year. However, Meta’s app has sparked data privacy concerns and is currently unavailable in the European Union. Here’s everything you should know about Threads.

How can Threads be used?

To use Threads, you can download the app from the Apple and Google Android app stores, available in over 100 countries.

The Instagram team developed Threads, so Instagram users can log in using their Instagram accounts. Your username and verification status will carry over, but you’ll also have the option to customize other parts of your profile. You can choose whether or not to follow the same people as on Instagram.

Since Threads and Instagram are closely linked, be cautious about account deletion. According to Threads’ privacy policy, you can deactivate your profile anytime, but deleting your Instagram account is the only way to delete your Threads profile.

Accessing Threads without an Instagram account: Is it possible?

Is it possible to use Threads without an Instagram account? Currently, Threads is exclusive to Instagram users. Therefore, if you wish to access Threads, you will need to sign up for an Instagram account first.

According to Mike Proulx, VP, and research director at Forrester, integrating Threads as an extension of Instagram was a wise decision by Meta. This strategy has sparked curiosity among Instagram users, who receive notifications about their followers joining Threads. Consequently, the number of sign-ups has surpassed 10 million within just seven hours of its launch.

However, Proulx emphasizes the importance of sustaining momentum and continually capturing user attention beyond the initial surge of curiosity. The long-term viability of Threads will ultimately determine its success or failure.

How Threads is similar to Twitter:

Threads offer a microblogging experience akin to Twitter. Users have the ability to repost, reply to, or quote a thread. They can also view the number of likes and replies a post has garnered. Unlike Twitter’s 280-character limit, Threads allows for posts of up to 500 characters. Additionally, users can incorporate links, photos, and videos up to five minutes long.

According to Zuckerberg’s initial responses regarding Threads, ensuring a “friendly place” will be crucial for its success. He expressed that this approach sets Threads apart from Twitter, which he believes did not achieve as much success as it should have. Meta aims to approach the platform differently.

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A letter obtained by Semafor on Thursday reveals that Twitter has threatened legal action against Meta regarding Threads. The letter, addressed to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and dated Wednesday, accuses Meta of unlawfully utilizing Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property by hiring former Twitter employees to develop a “copycat” app.

In response to the report, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone clarified on Threads Thursday afternoon that none of the engineers on the Threads team are former Twitter employees.

While Elon Musk hasn’t directly tweeted about the potential legal action, he has responded to sarcastic comments about the Threads launch. In one instance, when a tweet suggested that Meta’s app was primarily constructed through copy and paste, Musk replied with a laughing emoji.

Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino has not publicly addressed the letter from Wednesday but seemingly alluded to the Threads launch in a Thursday tweet, emphasizing that the Twitter community cannot be replicated.

Is this not a repetition of previous attempts?

Meta’s introduction of Threads, a text-based app with striking similarities to Twitter, indicates a direct challenge to the platform. Twitter’s own history has led to unfavorable modifications, leading users and advertisers to explore alternative options. Within this context, Threads joins the landscape of Twitter rivals, including Bluesky, Mastodon, and Spill.

Meta's introduction of Threads

How is content moderated on Threads?

Meta states that Threads will employ the same safety measures as Instagram, which involve enforcing Instagram’s community guidelines and offering tools to manage mentions and replies.

It appears that content warnings, such as those related to conspiracy theory groups or misinformation about COVID-19 vaccinations, will also be implemented similarly to Instagram.

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What privacy concerns exist with Threads?

According to the data privacy disclosure on the App Store, Threads has the potential to collect a wide range of personal information, including health, financial details, contacts, browsing and search history, location data, purchases, and sensitive information.

What privacy concerns exist with Threads?

Currently, Threads is not available in the European Union, which has strict data privacy regulations. Meta has informed Ireland’s Data Privacy Commission, the main privacy regulator for the EU, that there are no immediate plans to launch Threads in the 27-nation bloc, as stated by commission spokesman Graham Doyle. Although Meta is working on expanding the app to more countries, the company cites regulatory uncertainties as the reason for the decision to delay a European launch.

What does the future hold for Threads?

The success of Threads is uncertain, considering Meta’s history of launching and subsequently shutting down standalone apps, including a previous Instagram messaging app called “Threads” that closed less than two years after its 2019 launch.

Despite this, industry experts, including Proulx, anticipate that Threads could pose significant challenges for Musk and Twitter. Combining Twitter-style features with Instagram’s aesthetic could lead to increased user engagement and prove to be a formidable rival for Twitter.

However, the fate of Threads largely depends on user feedback since it is still in its early stages. Pescatore suggests that the close integration between Instagram and Threads might not resonate with everyone, and the introduction of new features will play a crucial role.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, acknowledged in a Threads post that there are currently missing features, such as hashtags and direct messaging between users. He emphasized the importance of user value over time, acknowledging that further development and improvement will be necessary.

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