Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and their companies have officially begun a battle today.
Meta released Threads as a standalone Twitter competitor based on Instagram’s account system. Adam Mosseri is the head of Instagram. According to him, Twitter’s volatility and unpredictability under Musk gave Instagram the opportunity to compete. Mosseri said in an interview that Threads was designed to be used for “public discussions,” a reference to the way Twitter executives have described its purpose over the years.
Mosseri says that Twitter was the pioneer in this space. There are many good options for public conversation. We thought that, given all that was happening, there was a chance to create something open and beneficial for the Instagram community.
Meta has been working on Threads for a long time. It is its “sanely-run” version of Twitter. According to documents from the company, the backlash against Musk’s recent decision to limit the number of tweets that people could see in a day was the catalyst for releasing the app this week. Meta also expects that “tens or millions” of users will try Threads in the first few weeks of its availability.
Mosseri says Threads is “risky,” particularly since it’s an app that people must download. Meta made the onboarding easier by letting users auto-populate their account information and follow list directly from Instagram. I was able do this quickly after being granted Threads access earlier today.
Threads also has to deal with the fact that Twitter is a very old company and has built a network that’s hard to duplicate, if it isn’t impossible. Meta is aware that despite Musk’s antics in the last few months, unseating Twitter will not be easy. Mosseri says it would be a mistake for Twitter and Elon to be underestimated. “Twitter is a very old platform with a vibrant and strong community. The network effects on Twitter are extremely strong.”
Threads shares many similarities with Twitter. The main feed of the app shows you posts from your followers, as well as accounts that Instagram recommends. Replies are prominently displayed in the main feed. You can also repost content with your own comments. It is not possible to create a feed that only shows the people you are following.
Threads posts can have up to 500 characters and photos or videos up to 5 minutes in length. Mosseri says that there are no ads for the time being.
The blue check that Instagram offers will also be available on Threads accounts. According to documents I’ve seen, Meta will only take action against a Threads Account in extreme cases, such as sharing child exploitation images.
Due to the strong ties between Threads, Instagram and Facebook, you can easily share posts from Threads on your Instagram feed or story. It’s possible to share links from Threads posts on other apps. Mosseri believes this will help as they “try to bootstrap” the app.
Meta has been busy in the last week bringing a number of celebrities to Threads, including those from Hollywood, music and sports, as well as business. This is all ahead of the public release. Karlie Kloss is one of the celebrities already on the app. Others include Tony Robbins and Dana White.
Threads will initially be available in 100 countries including the US but not the European Union. Mosseri says that it’s initially being excluded from EU due to “the complexity of complying with certain laws coming into force next year.” This is likely a reference the Digital Markets Act which imposes new legal obligations to so-called “gatekeepers” like Meta.