Instagram’s Text-Based Platform Competing With X

Meta launched a social networking business called Threads in July 2023, leveraging Instagram’s audience to create a new microblogging site intended to compete with X, formerly known as Twitter.

Here’s everything you need to know about the latest addition to the Meta range.

What is the Discussions app?

The purpose of Meta’s Threads app is to read and participate in public conversations. On Threads, users can post a “thread” – usually a short piece of text – and other users can “like”, repost or reply to the thread.

The Threads app was created by Instagram and requires an Instagram account to log in, but you’ll need to download the standalone Threads app separately.

But unlike Instagram, which is based on photos and videos, Threads is a primarily text-based social networking platform, although users can also post media files such as photos, links, and short videos.

Threads posts can be up to 500 characters long, and depending on your privacy settings, your posts can be seen either by anyone on the Threads interface or only by your approved followers.

Like Facebook and Instagram – with the exception of the Stories feature – Threads doesn’t track who viewed your profile or posts.

Meta launched Threads in July 2023, but not for the first time. Back when Meta was only known as Facebook, the company released an earlier version of Threads in 2019. This initial version was a messaging app intended to compete with Snapchat, but it never gained traction. popularity and was discontinued in 2021.

Threads vs. X (formerly Twitter)

Although a number of social media platforms over the years – like BlueSky, Mastodon, and Truth Social – have attempted to unseat X as the leading social media app for public discourse, only Threads has had much luck.

Threads launched at a very opportune time: Elon Musk took over Twitter in October 2022, renamed it X, and began implementing a number of unpopular changes that caused many users to threaten to abandon ship .

When Meta released Threads, it was able to use Instagram’s existing user base to quickly collect downloads and gain a foothold. Threads also offers users the ability to follow accounts they already follow on Instagram.

Threads and X already share some popular features. Like X’s “For You” page, Threads displays posts in a long feed on the home page. This feed features posts from accounts users follow and accounts they don’t follow but might be interested in.

Like X, Threads also has a character limit on posts. But unlike X, Threads gives users 500 characters. X users are limited to 280 characters, unless they subscribe to Twitter Blue for $8 per month, in which case they get 25,000 characters.

In March 2024, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced an update to Threads that made the app even more like X: a “Current Trending” feature to better deliver popular, widely discussed topics and posts.

Security, privacy and content on Threads

A photo of a phone with the Threads and Instagram logos in the background.

When Threads first launched, users complained because they realized they couldn’t delete their Threads accounts without also deleting their Instagram accounts.

NurPhoto/Getty Images.

Threads initially raised security and privacy concerns when it launched: the app allows users to access data from third-party services more freely than Meta’s other products, like Facebook and Instagram.

Threads also initially angered users by not allowing them to delete their Threads accounts without also deleting their Instagram accounts. Users said they felt “trapped,” and a few months later, Instagram rolled out a feature allowing users to delete a Threads account without losing the accompanying Instagram account.

Like Instagram, Threads has clear guidelines/policies against NSFW content, such as nudity and explicit sexual content. And unlike its rival X, Threads is also less geared toward politics and news content. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri called Threads a safe space for brands and a “less angry place” for public discourse.

As a result, critics speculated that Threads would be boring and better for brands than its actual human users.

Do people actually use Threads?

Although Threads had a successful launch, immediately garnering 150 million downloads and 100 million active users within days, its usage quickly plummeted.

To address the crisis, Meta added a number of new features to Threads to attract these users and made the platform available in the European Union. As of late 2023, Threads was the most popular app in the Apple App Store in the United States.

The rise of Threads also coincided with a decline in usage at X, although, like Meta, Musk has spoken about plans to add new features to boost usage.

It’s still unclear whether Threads has any real longevity, or whether it will completely replace X as the premier microblogging site, but Zuckerberg expressed optimism that one day Threads could become “a conversation app for 1 billion people.


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