Threads, Meta’s newly launched application and Twitter competitor, attracted ten million users within the first seven hours of its launch, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
This surge was driven by the company’s efforts to attract users from Elon Musk’s struggling platform by offering longer posts, support from several celebrities, and a design that heavily mirrors its competitor.
The parent company of Facebook and Instagram accelerated the introduction of the app by 15 hours, launching it at 7pm EDT in the US and midnight in the UK (Thursday, 6am GMT+7).
It became readily accessible in 100 countries via the Apple and Google app stores, although due to regulatory issues, it is not available in the EU.
Brands like Billboard, HBO, NPR, and Netflix quickly created accounts within minutes of the app’s launch. Initial celebrity endorsements came from Shakira and Gordon Ramsay, and according to recent reports, Meta also reached out to Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama.
To access Threads, users will require an Instagram account. After registration, they have the option to follow their Instagram contacts on the new platform, provided they have also signed up.
Aesthetically, the app bears a striking resemblance to Twitter, albeit with some terminology changes. For instance, “retweets” are now “reposts”, and “tweets” are referred to as “threads”.
This mimicking strategy is not new for Meta, with a notable example being Instagram’s Reels feature, which was launched in 2020 and is strikingly similar to TikTok’s short-form video format.
On Threads, posts can contain up to 500 characters, far exceeding Twitter’s limit of 280 for most users. Users can share videos up to five minutes long, and the app allows posts to be shared via link on other platforms.
Options to unfollow, block, restrict or report are also available, and users can filter out replies containing specific words.
Threads has been launched by Meta amidst another turbulent phase for Twitter, which recently enforced tweet viewing restrictions due to concerns over data harvesting for AI models by other firms.
In his own “threads” on Threads, Zuckerberg touched on these issues. “I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will,” he penned.
Public response to Wednesday’s launch ranged from cautious to enthusiastic. The app was lauded for its user-friendly design, and some suggested Elon Musk should be concerned.
The rapid integration of the app with Instagram highlighted Meta’s increasing dominance. Much of the discussion, ironically, unfolded on Twitter, where “Threads” was a trending topic on Wednesday evening.
Zuckerberg’s anticipated unveiling of Threads led to an unexpected development, as he and Musk seemed to agree to a cage fight over the issue, though a date for this improbable face-off is yet to be confirmed.
Threads is described by Meta as a “new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations”, striving to “take what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas”.
Twitter boasts a user base exceeding 250 million, while Instagram reportedly hosts 2 billion users.
Additionally, Meta revealed that Threads would also mimic Twitter’s competitors such as Mastodon, which operates on a decentralized platform enabling account portability to other services.
They are committed to making Threads compatible with the open, interoperable social networks that are believed to shape the internet’s future.
The company plans to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the same technology underpinning Mastodon, enabling social networks to be interoperable. This would allow Threads users to transfer their accounts and followers to other apps supporting ActivityPub.
Users can opt to stop using the Threads app and shift their content to a different service using the same underlying technology, like Mastodon.
“”Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa, ushering in a new era of diverse and interconnected networks.”
In a similar vein to Mastodon, Meta envisions the formation of mini-communities with their own community standards and moderation policies.