What is Threads? First Impressions of Meta’s New Twitter Rival

How to use Threads and everything else you really need to know about the new social media app

Meta’s new Twitter rival, Threads, is taking the social media world by storm and has already racked up over 10 million users in its short life, according to Mark Zuckerberg.

The Meta CEO is promoting Threads, or Instagram Threads in full, as one of the best Twitter alternatives and a more “friendly” place to have online conversations, with the unavoidable comparison being with the avian-themed app bought by Elon Musk last October. Already, Threads is available to download in over 100 countries worldwide, including the US and UK. That number would be even larger, but the app is not yet available in the EU due to regulatory issues. Rolling out Threads this week, Meta simply called the platform a “new way to share with text.”

It added that the version of Threads now available is an “initial” product but that new features will be rolled out in the future, including the ability to interact with users on other social media platforms like Mastodon.  At present, Threads allows you to share posts of up to 500 characters, follow other users, and participate in conversations with them.

How to Use Threads and First Impressions

Getting started with Threads is simple enough. We’ll cover the basics here, but for a more detailed look we also have a guide on how to get Instagram Threads.

That said, all you really need to do is go to the relevant app store and download Threads. Here are the links you need to get started:

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After that, you’ll be prompted to log-in with Instagram. There doesn’t seem to be the option to create a new account just for Threads, so if you don’t already have an Insta account but want to check out Threads, it looks like you’ll have to sign up.

After that, you’ll be invited to follow the same accounts you do on Instagram. One thing we noticed in our early use of Threads is that hitting the ‘Follow All’ button at this point sends a new personal follow to request to everyone on your following list. There’s no question it’s convenient, but make sure you’re happy with nudging everyone you follow as we can think of certain cases where this might not be ideal.

Also, bear in mind if you’ve set your Threads to public that both your Following and Followers lists will be public, too. Again, there may be instances where this isn’t something you want, especially if you’ve set your Instagram to private, as many people do because of how personal sharing photos is.

Once you’re all set up, you can then start interacting on Threads. Just like on Twitter, you reply, re-share and quote posts. And like both Twitter and Instagram, you’ll notice that your feed isn’t just posts from people you follow but also heavily populated with recommended content. We’d love the option to filter this out, as our initial impression is that our feed is definitely on the spammy side. Of course, as with other social media platforms you can hide, block, and report other users on Threads.

From a business perspective, it’s also worth noting that Instagram’s considerable e-commerce reach doesn’t seem to extend to Threads right now, though we’re sure Meta has some B2C ambitions for its new platform.

The Latest Twist in Zuckerberg vs Musk Rivalry

Twitter owner Elon Musk and Zuckerberg have been involved in a mudslinging match recently when it comes to their social media platforms. Zuckerberg has said he has high hopes from Threads and sees a future featuring a “public conversations app with more than 1 billion people on it.

He added that “Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it” and that keeping Threads positive is the “key to its success” — a not-so-thinly veiled jibe at Twitter’s current reputation as a breeding ground for online trolls and less than savory debate.

At the time of writing, it has attracted 10 million users in a short space of time, so these ambitions could well be realistic. After all, Facebook has nearly 3 billion users.

Musk, naturally, fired back, stating “It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram.”

At the moment it’s just words that Zuckerberg and Musk are exchanging, but it could soon turn physical. Last month Musk challenged Zuckerberg to a cage match, to which he shot back the message “send me location.”

Regardless of whether the grudge match takes place or not, one thing is for sure, the fight for social media domination between the two just got very real.

Threads vs Twitter: Is It Even a Fight?

One has to wonder how long Meta and Mark Zuckerberg have had Threads up their sleeve, but they couldn’t have hoped for a more opportune time to strike.

Since Musk’s takeover of Twitter last year, the erstwhile social media giant has been mired in controversy after controversy: from firing over half the workforce, to not paying bills, and even being threatened with eviction. It has also welcomed back many of its most controversial users that were banned in the pre-Musk era.

Twitter was no doubt hoping the recent appointment of ex-NBCUniversal ads boss Linda Yaccarino as new CEO would kickstart a revival, but the launch and runaway early success of Threads may in fact suggest something very different — that a true Twitter killer has finally landed.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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