The social media landscape has been relatively stable for some time, but the introduction of Threads by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sparked significant debate due to its striking similarity to the existing microblogging platform, Twitter, which boasts over 368 million monthly active users as of December 2022.
Threads is a text-based public conversation app that allows users to post and share text, images, and videos, as well as interact with other users through replies, reposts, and likes. The app is closely integrated with Meta's Instagram platform and requires users to have an Instagram account and use Threads under the same handle.
Launched on July 5th, 2023, Threads has been met with widespread acclaim, quickly garnering over 100 million sign-ups within its first five days. Users can create text posts of up to 500 characters, including links, photos, and videos with a maximum duration of five minutes. The app also offers features similar to Instagram, such as the ability to control who can mention or respond to users and filter out replies containing specific keywords.
However, Threads has not been without controversies. One significant limitation is the lack of profile customization options, leading to frustration among users. Moreover, the app's deep integration with Instagram means that deleting a Threads account will also delete the associated Instagram account, though the company is reportedly working on a separate deletion option. Additionally, Threads lacks a direct messaging function and a desktop version, which could limit its appeal to certain users and businesses.
Another notable concern is Threads' unavailability in the European Union (EU). Meta has taken measures to block EU-based users from accessing the app via VPN due to the platform's extensive data collection practices, including the collection of sensitive information. Meta faces legal and regulatory challenges in the EU, particularly concerning data aggregation for advertising purposes under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which has contributed to the delay of Threads' launch in the bloc.
Threads' emergence has sparked a rivalry with Twitter, which has long been the hub of real-time public conversations. The bone of contention lies in the app's user interface and basic features, which bear a striking resemblance to Twitter's setup. This has led to tensions between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, with Musk's attorney even threatening to sue Meta for alleged misappropriation of Twitter's trade secrets and intellectual property.
The competition between Threads and Twitter has intensified, with speculations about a "cage match" between the two tech giants making headlines. Whether the rivalry will escalate into a legal battle remains to be seen.
Overall, Threads' entry into the social media realm has caused a stir, positioning itself as a potential "Twitter rival" and earning the moniker of a "Twitter killer" in some media circles. However, the app's success in capturing the cultural significance and user base of Twitter remains uncertain, and only time will reveal its impact on the social media landscape.