Millions Join Meta Threads On Its First Day, Is Twitter Doomed?
Forget about the cage match between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, the real battle between these two technology moguls is for users in the high-stakes social media space. Only up until now, Musk, who owns Twitter, and Zuckerberg, who co-founded Meta/Facebook (which acquired Instagram), haven't directly competed with one another. That all changes with the launch of Threads. Let's get ready to rumbleeee!
What is Threads, exactly? It's Twitter for people who have grown tired of Twitter and Musk's antics, like imposing a view limit skewed toward non-paying users during the holiday weekend. Threads is also a work in progress. That's technically true of all social media apps, but especially in this case—the launch announcement calls it the "initial version of Threads," which comes off as a sort of disclaimer that this is by no means a finished product.
That's evident when you fire it up for the first time and find yourself lost in a sea of posts from people you don't follow. It's akin to the 'For you' feed in Twitter, which you can easily toggle to 'Following' so your feed shows posts from people and brands that you actually follow. Protip: You can sort of achieve the same thing in Threads, just head to Settings > Notifications > Threads and replies > First threads > From people you follow.
Threads is intertwined with Instagram, as it's built by the same team but with a different goal in mind.
"Whether you’re a creator or a casual poster, Threads offers a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations. We are working toward making Threads compatible with the open, interoperable social networks that we believe can shape the future of the internet," Meta explains.
Intertwining Threads with Instagram also carries an annoying downside. While you're allowed to deactivate your Threads profile whenever you wish, you can only delete your profile by deleting your Instagram account. That's something to keep in mind before signing up.
The upshot is, tying Threads to Instagram is helping the Twitter clone to avoid being a ghost town out of the gate. Zuckerberg provided several updates after Threads went live, saying it passed 2 million sign ups in the first two hours, 5 million within five hours, and 10 million in seven hours.
Threads also recycles some of Instagram's features to help "tune out the noise" in your feed.
"We built Threads with tools to enable positive, productive conversations. You can control who can mention you or reply to you within Threads. Like on Instagram, you can add hidden words to filter out replies to your threads that contain specific words. You can unfollow, block, restrict or report a profile on Threads by tapping the three-dot menu, and any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads," Meta says.
We've kicked the tires on Threads and our initial impression is that it's promising, but also needs work. In its initial form, posts can be up to 500 characters long with support for links, photos, and videos up to five minutes in length. And unlike Bluesky, no invite is needed—you can download Threads right now on iOS and Android.
Is this the beginning of the end for Twitter? Probably not, given the time investment that its users have put into building a following. But it's certainly a threat, and we'd argue more so than any other Twitter alternative (like Mastodon) to date. Instagram's reach is massive, and it's incredibly easy for Instagram users to get up and running in Threads.
The X-factor, though, is how Musk responds and how he treats Twitter going forward. After acquiring Twitter for $43 billion last year, Musk has made a series of controversial changes, such as taking away legacy blue badges in a push to sell Blue subscriptions, letting go of key personnel, and abandoning SMS two-factor authentication for non-Blue subscribers.
Only time will tell if Twitter and Threads can coexist. The only thing we can say with certainty is that Threads is here.