Instagram Launches App to Rival Twitter – Meta Platforms Inc.’s Instagram has introduced Threads, an application aimed at directly competing with Twitter, posing the strongest challenge to Elon Musk’s struggling social media platform yet. Threads allows individuals to share text, links, and engage with others by replying to or reposting messages.
Users will have the ability to transfer their current follower lists and account names from Instagram, Meta’s widely-used photo and video-sharing application with over 2 billion users, including renowned brands, celebrities, and content creators. Within the initial four hours, the app attracted over 5 million registrations, as confirmed by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Meta, through his Threads account.
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That’s still a far cry, however, from Twitter’s more than 300 million. “There should be a public conversations app with 1 billion-plus people on it,” the Meta chief executive officer said in an earlier post on Threads. “Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will.” According to Connor Hayes, a vice president of product at Instagram, numerous influential users of the platform have been requesting the development of a text-based application from the company.
“Creators were telling us, ‘We want an alternative to what’s out there, and we don’t want to start over and have to build out a following from zero,’” Hayes said in an interview, without mentioning Twitter specifically. Both Instagram and Facebook, owned by Meta, have a well-established track record of replicating products from emerging internet competitors with great success.
For instance, Meta’s Reels feature imitated TikTok’s popular video app, while their Stories feature was inspired by the rise of Snap Inc.’s Snapchat. In the past, Meta’s apps indirectly competed for user attention with Twitter by enticing news publishers, politicians, and other high-profile individuals to prefer posting on their platforms. With the release of Threads, Meta is now directly introducing a Twitter-like app, and the timing appears opportune.
Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion in October, the company has undergone significant layoffs, relaxed its content moderation policies, and faced numerous technical challenges that have affected users and advertisers. Twitter’s financial situation is also strained, with advertising revenue declining by 50% according to Musk’s statement in March.
To improve brand relationships, Musk recently hired Linda Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal executive, as the CEO of Twitter. As of the launch of Threads, Twitter still restricts the number of tweets users can view per day, which Musk referred to as a “temporary” measure to combat data scrapers and bots. These limitations are just the latest in a series of moves that have prompted Twitter users to seek alternative platforms.
However, most previous direct competitors to Twitter, such as Bluesky and Mastodon, have not been able to establish networks large enough to rival the reach and impact of posts on Twitter. Additionally, many new alternative networks are still developing systems to manage harmful, inappropriate, or violent content effectively. Threads will benefit from the mature infrastructure already in place, thanks to Instagram’s existing systems.
The app will adhere to the same content rules as Instagram and provide similar controls to mute and block harassing accounts. Public figures with verified accounts on Instagram can retain their blue badges on Threads. Earlier this year, Twitter made verification a feature available only through paid options. “People are looking for an experience where they have more control, and where safety is built into the product from the start,” Hayes said.
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According to Hayes, another appealing aspect of Threads is that it utilizes the ActivityPub social-networking protocol, which is also employed by Mastodon and other decentralized social media applications. This compatibility implies that users who amass followers on Threads will eventually have the ability to engage with a broader community beyond Instagram using the app.
Threads represents the first Meta app that will be interoperable with rival products, although Hayes did not provide a specific timeline for when this update will be implemented. Furthermore, Threads will initially be launched without advertisements. The current emphasis is to generate enthusiasm for the product among as many people as possible, as stated by Hayes.