Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has launched a new app this week aiming to compete with Twitter for real-time digital conversations. The app is known as ‘Threads‘, and is essentially a ‘community focussed’ spin-off of the image centric Instagram. It allows users to share text, photos, and videos with followers and also join public discussions on various topics. It is Twitter, but with a Meta spin.
Meta’s Threads is the company’s latest attempt to dislodge Twitter, and comes on the heels of apps such as Blue Sky, Mastodon, Substack and Hive. All of these companies are seeking to take a piece of Twitter’s pie after the turmoil and criticism the company has faced since being acquired by Elon Musk in 2022. Musk has made several highly controversial changes in his short time as CEO including, but not limited to, limiting how many tweets users can read, scrapping content moderation rules, and overhauling the verification process. Consequently, many Twitter users have expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with the service and have subsequently been looking for alternatives.
The app is now live on most mobile app stores, and is described as a place where “communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow”. Users can login with their Instagram account and follow people they already do on Instagram, ensuring the two platforms remain connected even if attempting to cater to slightly different audiences. However, there are a few missing features at launch, such as: no easy way to embed Threads outside of the platform, built-in Gif support (but can be added from media libraries) or the ability to quickly switch between different Threads accounts. There is also the humorously missed opportunity of not calling the ‘repost’ or ‘quote’ options in the app ‘Rethread’ or ‘Stitch’. These observations aside, most ‘missing’ features, and more, will most likely be added as the platform matures.
Meta’s Threads has been in development for some time with 9 to 5 Mac reporting how the app’s internal code name was Project 92 before eventually reaching journalists ears as the “Barcelona” project. Even more interesting is how The Verge reports how Meta’s Threads will integrate with ActivityPub, a decentralised social media protocol allowing users to interact across different platforms. This could potentially give Threads an edge over Twitter, which has been accused of being a closed and centralised system (despite the company’s code going open source) and silencing dissenting voices; thus ensuring the service is more inline with many of the smaller competitors, like Mastodon, to have cropped up in recent months.
However, and this is the big one, there is no clear indication of how Meta’s Threads will handle user privacy and data protection. This is especially concerning given Meta’s history of scandals and lawsuits. Then again, someone who already uses Instagram may already be fine with the current permissions. Only time will reveal the true motives and intentions behind Meta’s move to procuring even more data from users.
Whether Meta’s Threads will be able to attract and retain enough users and creators to compete with Twitter’s established user base and influence, or be relegated to the app graveyard as a failed experiment, remains to be seen.
Owner, founder and editor-in-chief at Vamers, Hans has a vested interest in geek culture and the interactive entertainment industry. With a Masters degree in Communications and Ludology, he is well read and versed in matters relating to video games and communication media, among many other topics of interest.