What Is Threads? A New App That Rivals Twitter

What Is Threads? Instagram’s text-based social network.

Threads is Meta's newly launched app that rivals Twitter, placing its primary focus on sharing short snippets of text on the free conversation-based platform. The Zuckerberg-backed platform is standalone, though it is an online hub that's linked to Instagram.

On July 5, Meta, the parent company of Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, launched Threads, a new conversation-based app nearly identical to the format of Twitter. Threads surpassed 100 million users in 5 days! Breaking the record for fastest growing consumer app set by artificial intelligence app ChatGPT. The app is Meta’s answer to Twitter, which has seen some of its users and advertisers flee since billionaire Elon Musk acquired the social media platform in October 2022.

Furthermore, Twitter began limiting the number of posts users can read per day to address “extreme levels of data scraping,” which only served to further frustrate users.  A number of Twitter alternatives have emerged in recent months, including decentralized messaging app Mastodon and Bluesky, which is backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. But neither platform has been able to match Twitter’s user base and popularity.

The launch of Threads not only ramps up competition in the social media space, but continues the on-going rivalry between Zuckerberg and Musk. For nearly seven years, the two tech moguls have feuded on topics including artificial intelligence and rockets and most recently, have threatened to take their billionaire brawl to the cage.

How does Threads work?

Threads is part of the Instagram platform. It will use your Threads and Instagram information to personalize ads and other experiences across Threads and Instagram. 

Future versions of Threads will work with the Fediverse, a new type of social media network that allows people to follow and interact with each other on different platforms, like Mastodon. Users are required to have an Instagram account in order to use Threads. Once you download the app, it will prompt you to login using your Instagram account. From there, Threads will automatically port over your Instagram username, but you can still customize your profile.

Threads gives you the option to automatically follow all of the same accounts you follow on Instagram when they are active on Threads, or just a few of them, so that you don’t have to painstakingly locate all your friends and followers on Threads.

Users primarily post text-based messages, or “threads,” that are limited to 500 characters each. You can tag specific users in a thread by using the symbol in front of their username. Users can limit replies on their thread to only their followers, or people they’ve tagged in the post. You can also include photos or videos in a thread.

Backed by Meta "Fediverse", can Threads replace Twitter?

That’s the $44 billion question, and for tens of thousands of people, it already has.  It's uncertain if Threads can beat Twitter, but the truth is that many users are skipping Twitter. It may exist, but it's heading for a dead end.

When it comes to getting users in the habit of posting on Threads, one of the app's biggest weaknesses may be the very thing that might make the launch a success: the strength of the Meta brand. Tech junkies might counter that Zuckerberg has played (and lost) this game before. He tried to replicate the ephemerality of Snapchat with Facebook's Stories feature, or the compulsive scroll of TikTok with Instagram's Reels. Neither feature successfully bested out the competition.

Is Threads free?

Threads is free. It’s friendly (so far). It’s remarkably easy to sign up for (if you have Instagram) and use. Meta − the parent company of Facebook and WhatsApp − created it. After all this time, you would hope the brains over there know a thing or two about what people want from social media these days.