Instagram parent company Meta on Wednesday debuted Threads, which is billed as a text-based conservation app that can potentially rival Twitter. You can sign in with your Instagram credentials and keep your usernames, followers and verification status.
Though the platform has reportedly been in the works since January, the Threads rollout comes on the heels of Elon Musk announcing limits on how many tweets you can read on Twitter per day.
Amid all the changes at Twitter, some social media users may be looking for an alternative, much like Mastodon or Bluesky. Threads provides the option to post text, videos and photos and the ability to engage in real-time conversations. Read on to learn more about how to join and what features are available.
What is Threads by Meta?
Created by Meta’s Instagram team, Threads is a platform that allows you to publish short posts or updates that are up to 500 characters. You can include links, photos or videos up to 5 minutes long. The app is linked to your Instagram account, and according to Meta, you can “easily share a Threads post to your Instagram story, or share your post as a link on any other platform you choose.”
Your feed will include posts from people and accounts you follow on Instagram or Threads, as well as recommendations for undiscovered content. You also have the ability to filter specific words from your feed and restrict who is allowed to mention you.
Threads is free to use and is available to download from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.
How to use Threads
You must have an Instagram account to join Threads, as the platform requires you to use your Instagram login credentials to sign in. Once you launch your account, your Instagram username will be ported over, but you can create a customizable profile, though Meta notes that UK users who are younger than 18 will receive a default private profile.
You can easily follow the same accounts you already follow on Instagram with a few clicks and port your following over rather than start from scratch on Threads. When you create a post or “Thread,” you can select who’s able to view it, which may be the entire world or your followers.
As far as features, Twitter and Instagram users may be happy to learn that you have the ability to unfollow, report, block or restrict a profile. Access it using the three dots drop-down menu, and anyone you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads. Other features include screen reader support and AI-generated image descriptions.
Meta says it’s working to make Threads compatible and integrative with other apps that support the ActivityPub protocol, such as WordPress and Mastodon. In the future, the company ideally wants Threads posts to be accessible for anyone with a compatible app, whether you have a Threads account or not.
Meta’s Threads vs. Twitter
Competition between the two tech giants is going beyond the proposed cage match between Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. With Threads’ built-in connection to Instagram, it can make it much easier to gain users within a short period of time. Though Musk changed Twitter’s cap to 10,000 posts a day for verified users, 1,000 per day for unverified and 500 for new unverified users, the move could result in the loss of subscribers — and advertisers.
However, the new Threads platform does have its detractors as well. Forrester analyst Mike Proulx asserts that Meta is taking advantage of the current wave of dissatisfaction with Twitter and that the company unsuccessfully launched and shut down Threads before.
“While credit should be given to Meta’s steadfast test and learn strategy, the company doesn’t exactly have a successful track record launching standalone apps outside its core family,” Proulx said in a statement to CNET, pointing to apps like Slingshot and IGTV.
Proulx added that the market is inundated with Twitter challengers such as Bluesky, Mastodon and Hive. “This only serves to fracture the Twitter alternative-seeking user base,” he said.
The launch of Threads in the European Union is also reportedly delayed due to data sharing concerns between the two apps.
Check out CNET’s additional coverage on social media platforms, including TikTok rules and Meta’s paid verification system for Instagram and Facebook.