Instagram Launches 'Threads', A Twitter Competitor

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has unleashed its frontal attack on Twitter, the social network controlled by Elon Musk.

On Wednesday, Meta’s Instagram launched Threads, described as a “text-based conversation app” in about 100 countries. The app is available in Apple’s App Store for iOS devices and in Google Play for Android. Previously it was in a closed beta test.

“Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads. 🔥,” Zuckerberg wrote in his inaugural post on the app, shared two days ago.

“Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow,” Instagram says in its description of the app. “Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.”

By launching Threads through Instagram, the new app has a leg up on other would-be Twitter alternatives. For starters, Instagram users can keep the same username on Threads. And, during setup, Threads users can opt to follow the same accounts they already follow on Instagram. Officially, the app is called “Threads, an Instagram app.”

Threads lets users share text posts in up to 500 characters, as well as share photos and videos (with a maximum of 5 minutes). Right now, the app doesn’t include a direct-messaging feature. According to Meta rep, “We’re working on Threads soon being compatible with the open, interoperable social networks that we believe can shape the future of the internet.” Specifically, Instagram plans to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open social networking protocol established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that is supported by apps including Mastodon and WordPress.

“Alright friends, the apps have been published though they will take some time to propagate – so we’ll start seeing the doors open right about now,” Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, wrote on Threads just before 4 p.m. PT. “We’re hoping this can be an open and friendly platform for conversations. The best thing you can do if you want that too is be kind.”

Meta announced last fall that Instagram had surpassed 2 billion monthly active users. That said, it’s not clear how many Instagrammers will flock to Threads, which like Twitter is centered around text posts (rather than images and videos, as Instagram is).

When signing up for Threads, anyone who is under 16 (or under 18 in some countries) will have their profile to by default as private. According to Meta, core accessibility features available on Instagram today, such as screen-reader support and AI-generated image descriptions, are also enabled on Threads.

The launch of Threads comes as Musk’s Twitter has faced technical struggles of late. Last week, Twitter imposed “temporary” restrictions on the number of posts users could read on the site to “address extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation,” Musk claimed.

Meta confirmed earlier this year that it was exploring the launch of “a standalone, decentralized social network for sharing text updates.” A company rep said in March 2023, “We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”

Article first appeared on Variety.

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