Instagram’s buzzing new Twitter killer app, Threads, has arrived. And it’s a lot like Twitter. That’s exactly the point.
Many social media users say Twitter’s definite Ready and even desperate for an alternative. The company started limiting the number of tweets users could see last weekend, a questionable business decision that was widely unpopular with users. There are some alternatives such as Mastodon and Bluesky, but none have grown to surpass his Twitter popularity with a number of important political and culturally influential figures.
So Meta-owned Instagram decided to strike while the iron was hot. The Threads app was originally scheduled to be released later this month, but was pushed to Thursday and pushed back to today. The app will reportedly be open to users in 100 countries, but not in the European Union (more on that later).
“Our vision with Threads is to take what Instagram does best and extend it to text, creating a positive and creative space to express ideas,” Instagram parent company Meta said Wednesday. mentioned in a blog post.
Functionally, Threads is similar to Twitter, with some minor differences. Create short posts up to 500 characters (Twitter’s 250 characters) with links, photos, and short videos up to 5 minutes long. A thread feed consists of algorithms. That means you’ll see a mix of people you follow and recommended content, much like Instagram does today. Twitter gives you the option to switch between an algorithmic feed of people you follow only and a time series based feed. But overall, based on early screenshots of the app shared with Vox, the app looks and feels very similar.
A key feature that distinguishes Threads from Twitter is its decentralized ambition. So in the future, we should be able to connect Threads posts to other social media platforms such as Mastodon. This is a completely different approach than Twitter, which has restricted free API access to third-party developers. But Interoperability isn’t ready yet, Mehta said. Also, what many everyday users care most about is not who is posting and how easy it is to use.
So how will this new app actually work and what will it look like, and does it really have a chance of overtaking Twitter?
how to use it and how it feels
To use Threads, you’ll need to download it as a standalone app from the Apple or Android stores.
Once you have the app, you can log in with your Instagram account and choose to follow the same people you already follow on that platform. This is one of Threads’ biggest advantages over other her Twitter alternative apps. Over 2 billion people already have a built-in social network on Instagram, so unlike Mastodon, for example, you don’t have to completely rebuild your follower base from scratch. .
The worlds of Instagram and Threads go hand in hand. If you’ve been authenticated on Instagram (now you can pay), that authentication will carry over to the thread. You can also crosspost your thread to Instagram as a story or link to another platform.
Once there, you’ll find features that are very similar to Twitter’s, but with Instagram’s design flair, including the same fonts and icons as Instagram. You can like, reply to, and repost threads. Meta said the feed will be a combination of recommended content from users you follow and users you don’t follow.
For Instagram, getting the thread feed algorithm right is key. Many users complain that Twitter’s “For You” feed has too much content from random users they don’t want to see, or that they miss Twitter’s old-fashioned default chronological feed. We’ll see what posts threads want to see and how users perceive the posts they choose themselves.
What Threads’ distributed approach means
Threads is Meta’s first app to promote “decentralization”. The idea is to allow users to port their social media content and interact with them across different apps, all built on the same underlying standards.
Mastodon is the most popular social network that operates on a decentralized model, which proponents say can create a better internet that is not dominated by a single social media company. . Threads will likewise adopt a decentralized approach.
But it still isn’t.
The company wrote in a blog post that “soon” Threads will be compatible with the ActivityPub protocol. This is a system developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international organization that sets standards for the modern Internet, to govern how social networks can operate independently.
The idea is that in the future, Threads posts will be visible in other apps like Mastodon and WordPress, and vice versa, and allow users to comment on posts across apps. And if you decide to stop using Threads altogether, you can hypothetically port all your content to the new app.
“We believe that this decentralized approach will play an important role in the future of online platforms, much like the protocols that govern email and the web itself,” Mehta wrote in a blog post.
Decentralization is lively concept In today’s tech world, it might give Threads more appeal to a more digitally savvy audience. But most users are new to decentralization and probably don’t care too much. What really matters is how many people end up downloading the app and actually liking the app experience, which brings us to the next point.
Regulatory Concerns and Other Obstacles
Meta faces some significant regulatory and reputational hurdles in launching this app globally.
For example, according to Bloomberg, Meta has not launched Threads in the EU at this time due to EU regulatory uncertainty associated with the new digital market law. The law limits what large corporations designated as “gatekeepers” can do.
“Europe continues to be a very important market for meta. Uncertainty has influenced our decision not to launch right now,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement to Vox.
Regarding privacy concerns, Meta said in a blog post that anyone under the age of 16 (under 18 in some countries) defaults to a private profile when participating in threads. For your safety, Instagram limits who can mention or reply to you, hides certain offensive language in replies, and unfollows, blocks, and limits accounts. said it will provide users with the same tools as Instagram for.
But as the EU challenge shows, Instagram will need to overcome something that a handful of privacy and safety features alone won’t change: an underlying trust in its parent company. The parent company has been controversial about how it handles user data since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. 2018.
Additionally, the thread should convince many users that it is not only authoritative, but also relevant. The magic of Twitter was that it was a place where a powerful world leader, a cynic writer, a super-famous celebrity, and his everyday online users could talk to each other about the news of the day. To get the same effect in a thread, you need a culture starter that can create compelling short posts of 500 characters.
Unlike original Instagram, Twitter’s social currency is words, not pictures. Meta has invited major celebrities to participate in early versions of the app. Mehta confirmed that celebrities such as Malala Yousafzai, Shakira and Gordon Ramsay have already used it. Threads probably has the most chances of any Twitter competitor to date, and needs more of these word-heavy stalwarts and the users who follow them.
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