Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has launched a new app called Threads, which aims to rival Twitter and provide users with an alternative to the social media platform owned by Elon Musk.
The new social media app is being sold as a text-based version of Meta’s photo-sharing app Instagram which the company says provides “a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.”
“Our vision is that Threads will be a new app more focused on text and dialogue, modeled after what Instagram has done for photo and video,” the company said.
“This is a space Twitter has been in and led for a while, but our perspective here is that there is an opportunity and people are looking for more choices,” said Connor Hayes, Instagram’s vice president of product, the Wall Street Journal reported.
10 million users in 7 hours
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta Platforms which owns Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, said 10 million users signed up for Threads app in its first seven hours.
Spending some time in engaging with early users of Threads, Zuckerberg said, “It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will.”
In another one of his replies, he said, “The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success. That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently.”
Instagram has more than two billion people among its monthly active users and Meta aims to tap into that base for Threads’ success.
The app provides a Twitter-like microblogging experience and has buttons to like, repost, reply to, or quote a “thread.” There are counters showing the number of likes and replies, just like Twitter has. However, unlike Twitter’s 280-character limit, posts on Threads are limited to 500 characters and can include links, photos, and videos up to five minutes long.
The app went live in Apple and Google Android app stores in over 100 countries, including India, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan. Early celebrity users of Threads include chef Gordon Ramsay, pop star Shakira, and YouTuber LadBaby as the app went online in the US on Wednesday evening.
Meta has leveraged Instagram’s popularity to compete with various platforms, such as Snapchat with the launch of Instagram Stories and TikTok with the introduction of Reels.
Threads aims to compete directly with Twitter. The move comes after Musk’s ownership of Twitter has been marked by controversial changes that have triggered a backlash, resulting in user and advertiser dissatisfaction.
Meta’s success with Threads is not guaranteed, according to analysts who point out the company’s track record of launching standalone apps that were later shut down. Furthermore, Meta has faced layoffs and a tech industry slowdown, leading some to question if the move is the right one for the company.
Meta is enforcing Instagram’s community guidelines, relying on Instagram’s existing safety and user controls, with private profiles turned on by default for users under 16.
However, data privacy concerns have been raised about the app. The app’s data privacy disclosure on the App Store reveals that Threads could collect a wide range of personal information, including health, financial, contacts, browsing and search history, location data, purchases, and sensitive information.
While Threads is available in many countries, Meta has no plans to launch the app in the European Union due to strict data privacy rules. The company has informed Ireland’s Data Privacy Commission, its main privacy regulator for the EU, about its decision.
Hayes said Meta needs extra time before launching Threads in the EU.
No advertisements yet
Currently, Meta is not planning to include advertisements in Threads, Hayes said, adding that he couldn’t commit to adding advertisements in the future. Meta’s immediate focus, he said, is on growing the app and building value for its users and creators.
“We’ve shown over time that as a company we’re able to deliver ads products that are relevant to people…but we need to build the consumer and creator value first,” Hayes said.
Hayes said there is a strong desire among people for an app that fosters productive and positive conversations.
“You’ll hear that there’s a hunger for something new, and so we’re hoping to launch this at a time where people have an appetite for that,” Hayes said.
On notable missing features like the use of hashtags and the ability to search for specific posts, Hayes said the company is considering adding those features in future updates.
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