Threads: Everything you need to know

Threads, an Instagram app to rival Twitter

It’s official: Instagram’s alternative to Twitter has launched. 

The new app, Threads, has been described as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app” and one scroll on the platform tells you that it has been released as a direct competitor for Twitter. Meta has taken advantage of Musk’s recent shortcomings on Twitter, hoping to provide the app’s disgruntled users with a shiny new place to move over to. 

The real question is, is Threads just another social media fad? Let’s dig into what the app is, how it works, and if it could potentially take off and provide real competition for Musk’s Twitter.

What is Threads'?

Instagram’s Threads launched today, Thursday 6th July 2023, and is available to download on Android and iOS in over 100 countries, including the US and the UK. However, it’s not currently available in the EU, as they have more stringent data regulations. 

Incredibly, 10 million people signed up to Threads within 7 hours of it launching, which could be partially thanks to its brilliantly fast sign-up method. When you download Threads, you’re prompted to sign-up through Instagram and the app imports your profile picture, bio, handle and personal information. It also imports the accounts you follow on Instagram and – very nicely – your followers. 

The entire sign-up process takes all of two minutes, then you’re in and ready to go.

Signing up to Threads by Meta
Setting up Threads; a quick and easy process

In many ways, Threads works very similarly to Twitter. You have a limit of 500 characters per post, you can share text posts, images or video, and the overall interface doesn’t feel too far removed from the Twitter feed we’re used to. However, Threads is being positioned as a messaging app that allows users to share quick updates, videos and photos with a close-knit circle of friends. The app is focusing on intimacy and authenticity, whereas Twitter has always been a public-facing social network, embracing open conversations with a focus on trending topics. 

In recent years, many users have been feeling disappointed with Twitter, with the platform continually becoming increasingly confrontational. Bots are rife, every swipe of the feed gives you an ad and there’s a concerning sense of mob mentality. This could be where Threads gets a foot up on the competition. Let’s take a look at some of the app’s initial benefits.

The Advantages of Threads

Before we dive into the positives of this new platform, it’s important to note that it has only been live for 12 hours or so at the time of writing. It’s very early doors and the app will undoubtedly change dramatically over the course of the next few weeks or months. As of today, there are no bots or ads on Threads, which users are seeing as a massive plus. 

Threads - users happy to see a lack of bots
Threads users are happy to see a lack of bots and ads on the app

The interface is very sleek, aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate, with some nice little details. It has followed in the footsteps of Instagram and LinkedIn in that you can completely hide replies to your posts if you find them offensive or abusive in any way. Twitter failed to include this feature, only allowing a partial hide of abusive replies, causing upset to many of its users. Its interconnectivity with Instagram is very efficient, automatically adding a small badge to your Instagram profile to link to your Threads account and including handy functionalities for sharing Threads to your IG stories.

Threads Integration with Instagram
Threads is effectively integrated with Instagram

It has a lot of potential and reception has been very positive considering it’s the app’s first day. However, it doesn’t appear to be totally free of issues and users have been noticing some possible shortcomings. Let’s take a look.

Initial Limitations & Issues of Threads

Currently, Threads doesn’t have many search capabilities, something which feels very alien in a world where we’re used to being able to search any hashtag, topic or name on social media. You can only search for usernames on Threads, there is no “Explore” or “Discovery” page, and there are no hashtags. It doesn’t seem to be focused around finding content, but rather finding people. 

Like many early Threads adopters, we were instantly disappointed by this limitation, but it may not be all that negative. Not being able to search for topics may create less of a mob mentality and reduce the bandwagoning and cancel-culture that is so prevalent on Twitter. It seems the app would benefit from a “Trending” section and some features to enable content discovery. 

The current method of discovering new content and creators on Threads is not going down well with its users, as the feed is full of people you don’t follow, distracting from the people whose content you actually want to see. To further the issue, you can’t currently curate or sort your feed in any way to prioritise the people you follow. 

Disappointingly, Threads does not currently have accessibility options such as captions or the capability to add alt text to images. We don’t doubt these important features will be added down the line.

Finally (but very importantly), particularly savvy users noticed a slightly concerning line in the small print when signing up to Threads. To delete your Threads account, you actually need to delete your entire Instagram account

Deleting Threads & Instagram Account
To delete your Threads account, you must delete your Instagram account

What Will The Future Hold For Threads?

Threads is certainly not without its issues. However, we need to keep in mind that it is very early days for the app and (fingers crossed) Instagram will keep an ear to the ground during these important early stages. We can only hope that some of the limitations and issues that users are flagging up now will be addressed down the line. 

This new platform undoubtedly has potential and, in an age of people becoming increasingly frustrated with the way Musk is changing Twitter, it has definitely come at the right time. Instagram has a whopping 2.35 billion monthly active users, who are all about to be pushed towards signing up for Threads. Could it be tough competition for Twitter’s 400 million users? Only time will tell. 

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