Facebook has tried to compete with Twitter in many ways over the years, including copying Twitter’s signature features like hashtags and trending topics. But now, Facebook’s parent company is taking perhaps its biggest Twitter hit yet.
Meta on Wednesday officially launched a new app called Threads, which aims to provide a space for real-time online conversations, a feature that has long been Twitter’s main selling point.
The app seems to have many similarities to Twitter, from the layout to the product description. The list, which first appeared earlier this week as a teaser, highlights its potential to build an audience and connect with like-minded people.
“The vision of Threads is to create an option and a friendly public space for conversation,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post-launch Threads post. “We hope to take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas, and discussing what you think.”
The app’s listing describes it as a place where communities can come together to discuss everything from topics they care about today to trending.
“Whatever interests you, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who enjoy the same things – or build a loyal following to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world,” it reads. .
Meta said messages posted to Threads will have a 500-character limit. The company said it is bringing the app to 100 countries through Apple’s iOS and Android.
After downloading the app, users are prompted to link their Instagram page, customize their profile, and follow the same accounts they already follow on Instagram. The look is similar to Twitter with a familiar layout, text-based feed, ability to repost and quote other Thread posts. But it also mixes up existing Instagram aesthetics and offers the ability to share Threads posts directly to Instagram Stories. Verified Instagram accounts are also automatically verified on Threads. Thread accounts can also be listed as public or private.
The new app joins a growing list of Twitter rivals and could pose the group’s biggest threat to Twitter, given Meta’s vast resources and massive audience.
It also comes amid increased unrest on Twitter, which experienced an outage over the weekend, followed by an announcement that the site had imposed temporary limits on the number of tweets its users can read while using the app.
Twitter owner Elon Musk said the restrictions were applied “to address extreme levels of data harvesting and system manipulation”. Commenting on the launch of Threads on Monday, he tweeted, “Thank goodness they’re so sane,” echoing comments reported by Meta execs that appeared to take a hit at Musk’s erratic behavior.
Since acquiring Twitter in October, Musk has turned the social media platform upside down, alienating advertisers and some of its most high-profile users. He is now looking for ways to bring the platform back to growth. Twitter announced Monday that users will soon be paying for TweetDeck, a tool that lets people easily organize and monitor the accounts they follow.
Twitter is also trying to encroach on Meta’s domain. In May, Twitter added encrypted messaging and said calls would follow, developments that could allow the platform to compete with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, also owned by Meta.
The growing rivalry between the two companies seems to have only added to the rivalry between Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In response to a tweet last month from a user about Threads, Musk wrote, “I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck with no other options.” In a follow-up tweet, Musk teased the idea of a cage match with Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg retaliated in an Instagram Story by posting a screenshot of Musk’s tweet captioned, “Send me location.”
CNN’s Hanna Ziady contributed to this report.
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