Facebook and Instagram owner is launching Twitter rival called Threads

Expected to debut on Thursday, Meta's new discussion-based Threads app is certainly a response to Twitter's current turmoil and user exodus.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
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Meta is throwing its hat into the Twitter rival ring with its own conversational app designed to woo people away from Elon Musk's platform. Popping up in Apple's App Store, a new app called Threads bills itself as a text-based conversation app from the company behind Facebook and Instagram. Currently listed as "coming soon," the app is expected to formally launch on July 5 at 7 p.m. ET.

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"Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what'll be trending tomorrow," reads the description. "Whatever it is you're interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things -- or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions, and creativity with the world."  

App Store screenthos of Threads

If that sounds a lot like Twitter, well, that's the idea.

With Twitter mired in controversy and confusion since owner Musk took over the platform, a slew of rivals have popped up in an attempt to win over disgruntled Twitter users. Such services as Mastodon and Bluesky have been touting themselves as Twitter alternatives, offering places where people can communicate and share ideas about different topics. Though the new competitors have succeeded in signing up a healthy number of users (Bluesky has paused new signups due to an influx of people), no one service has so far had the clout and reach to beat Twitter at its own game.  

But Meta could be the one company to pose a serious threat to Twitter. The company holds almost 3 billion Facebook users and more than 2.3 billion Instagram users, all of whom could be candidates to join Threads. And Meta is making the process relatively seamless. Instagram users who hop on board Threads can stick with the same username and follow the same accounts. There's no need to start from scratch as with other Twitter rivals.

At the same time, Musk's ongoing and random tweaks of the Twitter platform continue to trigger complaints from users. Over the weekend, the Twitter owner revealed that the company has started limiting how many tweets you can read per day based on your level of access. Though Musk touted the move as a way to cut down on data scraping and system manipulation, many Twitter users expressed concern and confusion over how the new limits would play out.

Twitter currently has around 450 million active users but has seen a decline since Musk took over in October of 2022. A December 2022 forecast from research firm Insider Intelligence forecasts a loss of more than 30 million users by the end of 2024.

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Meta hasn't revealed many details about Threads, though the App Store description shares a few tidbits. The app itself will be free and will be available in more than 30 different languages. So far, only the App Store lists the program; however, a mobile developer named Alessandro Paluzzi tweeted on Saturday that Threads had appeared on Google Play, even posting screenshots of its Play page.

An email sent to Twitter looking for commentary on the new Threads app resulted in the company's usual response of an automated message displaying a poop emoji. An email to Meta with a few questions received no specific answers, just a link to an Instagram post from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg promoting Threads with a due date of July 5 at 7 p.m. ET.

"In the hyper-competitive market of social media, Meta's launch of Threads could be the beginning of the end for Twitter," Luke Lintz, CEO of digital marketing and social media company HighKey Enterprises, told ZDNET. "Not only will the new microblogging platform [Threads] look and feel nearly identical to Twitter, it will be seamlessly connected to Instagram."

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To back up his opinion, Lintz cited the surge in popularity of the alternative social media platforms Truth Social, Bluesky, and Mastodon since Musk bought Twitter. Threads may also do a better job with content moderation, according to Lintz, attracting advertisers who pulled millions of dollars from Twitter after Musk gutted the company's content moderation team.

"I see Threads being a genuine rival to Twitter because it's bringing the existing user base of Instagram and Facebook to the platform at launch," said Lintz. "Meta has an astronomically larger user base than Twitter."

"Threads is launching at a critical time when Twitter has just released a lot of very unappealing features that are basically forcing people into Twitter Blue and restricting the amount of content the users can load on a daily basis," Lintz added. "With Threads being directly connected to Instagram, I see a lot of new users going onto the platform that never previously used Twitter because of how easy it will be to share content between the two Meta platforms."

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