In a direct challenge to Twitter, Meta Platforms (META.O) launched the Threads app on Wednesday, swiftly attracting millions of users who seized the opportunity to join the platform. The move comes at a time when Twitter is facing significant challenges due to a series of controversial decisions made by its owner, Elon Musk.
Among the early adopters of Threads were high-profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, as well as prominent politicians such as US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg welcomed users with a post on the app, stating, “Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads,” and adding a fire emoji. He also took to Twitter, playfully referencing the rivalry between Meta and Musk’s services by posting a meme featuring Spiderman facing off against another Spiderman.
Industry analysts have highlighted Threads’ integration with Instagram as a potential advantage, as it may attract existing Instagram users and capture advertising revenue that would otherwise go to Twitter. With the ability to log in using their Instagram credentials and follow the same accounts, Threads seamlessly integrates into the habits of Instagram’s vast user base of over 2 billion monthly active users.
Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at investment firm AJ Bell, commented, “Investors can’t help but be a little excited about the prospect that Meta really has a ‘Twitter-Killer.'”
For many, the launch of Threads represents an opportunity to create a less toxic alternative to Twitter. Ocasio-Cortez expressed her hopes for the platform, saying, “May this platform have good vibes, a strong community, excellent humor, and less harassment.”
Similar to Twitter, Threads allows users to make short text posts, like, repost, and reply to other posts. However, it lacks direct messaging capabilities. According to a Meta blog post, posts can contain up to 500 characters and include links, photos, and videos up to five minutes long. The app is available in over 100 countries on both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.
Ahead of the launch, Meta stock experienced a 3% increase, outperforming other tech firms in the market.
The introduction of Threads comes amidst an ongoing rivalry between Zuckerberg and Musk, marked by heated exchanges and even threats of a real-life mixed martial arts cage match in Las Vegas.
Meta’s entry into the social media landscape arrives at a time when Twitter is grappling with significant challenges. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion last October resulted in a decline in its value, along with layoffs and controversies surrounding content moderation. Twitter’s recent decision to limit the number of tweets users can read per day further intensified the backlash. Zuckerberg acknowledged the difficulties associated with large public social media platforms, stating, “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 its integration with Instagram, Threads incorporates privacy considerations. Users who sign up for Threads via Instagram have a badge automatically added to their Instagram profile, which can be hidden if desired. Users are also provided with options to adjust privacy settings for each app.
Despite the absence of visible ads during a Reuters review, brands like Billboard, HBO, NPR, and Netflix swiftly established accounts on the app.
Meta has been actively engaging social media influencers to bolster Threads, encouraging them to post at least twice a day, according to Ryan Detert, CEO of influencer marketing company Influential.
While several contenders have emerged as potential rivals to Twitter, such as Mastodon, Post, Truth Social, and T2, they have yet to gain significant traction. Bluesky, a service backed by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, had an invite-only beta launch in February, attracting users eager for access codes. As of April, its website claimed 50,000 users. Dorsey has also supported another platform called Nostr.
Notably, Meta has faced setbacks in the past when attempting to launch standalone copycat apps, such as its Lasso app designed to compete with short video platform TikTok. The company ultimately integrated a similar feature, Reels, directly into Instagram and recently disbanded its experimental app design unit.
In response to a user predicting Twitter’s demise shortly after the Threads launch, Zuckerberg advised patience, stating, “We’re only in the opening moments of the first round here.”