Twitter killer on the loose: Meta unleashes rival app Threads

Strike at what is weak, Sun Tzu wrote. Meta is doing precisely that – the Facebook and Instagram owner is starting a new app called Threads that is set to take on struggling Twitter.

Mark Zuckerberg has always wanted his apps to be the place where the public converses online, but outcompeting Twitter turned out to be quite difficult. Enter Elon Musk.

The new billionaire owner of Twitter has fired around 75% of its workforce, thrown out content moderation rules, introduced the confusing Blue tier, and, most recently, imposed “rate limits” on how many tweets per day users are allowed to read, frustrating many.

In essence, Musk has been doing his best to make his new toy so weak that rival tech companies cannot help themselves but try and dethrone Twitter once and for all. Meta’s new app Threads, set to be unveiled on Thursday, looks promising.

Deep pockets

The new app, referred to by some inside as a “Twitter killer,” has already appeared in Apple’s App Store. Users can sign up to download it on Thursday when Threads is due for release. You can also wait for the new app here.

It appears to function much like Twitter and emphasizes public conversation. In a jab at Musk and his ludicrous behavior, Meta executives previously described the new project as a “sanely run” version of a social network.

The parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp has reportedly been discussing how to capitalize on the chaos on Twitter since last year when Musk acquired the site. The new idea, born in January 2023, was at first code-named Project 92 but is now called Threads – at first glance, it definitely looks like Twitter.

Threads looks like Twitter. Image by Meta.

Importantly, and very conveniently for Meta, users will be able to connect with the people they already follow on Instagram – the personal information of each Instagram user will be automatically transferred over.

Instagram currently has over two billion active monthly users, and these will be useful to a new service that needs to hit the ground running with as large a user base as possible. Most other platforms trying to capitalize on Twitter’s weakness – Tumblr, Bluesky, or Mastodon – are much smaller than Meta and have to build communities more or less from scratch.

Meta’s pockets are also very deep – even though the company has been cutting costs and experimenting with expensive plans for the metaverse. This is why Threads could become a truly credible competitor to Twitter.

Zuckerberg’s people are also ready to embrace newcomers from other Twitter-like platforms. For Threads, Meta will reportedly use social networking protocol ActivityPub, already employed by Mastodon. This could make it easier for Mastodon accounts to migrate.

Your data is our data

By the way, Meta’s Instagram already had a companion standalone app called Threads, which was introduced in 2019. It was built as a “camera-first” mobile project and designed to compete with Snapchat, but didn’t gain mainstream adoption. The app was killed in 2021.

Meta retained the branding, though, and it remains to be seen how the new app will do. According to The Verge, celebrities including the Dalai Lama, DJ Slime, and Oprah, have already committed to signing up to Threads.

“Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow,” the promotional text reads.

“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.”

Musk, who owns Twitter but is not its CEO anymore, is ever-so-subtly trying to strike back in advance. He replied “yeah” when Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder currently working on Bluesky, tweeted a screenshot of Threads’ privacy information and added a caption, “All your Threads are belong to us.”

If the policy doesn’t change, the Threads app may collect data related to your health, financial information, contact information, browsing history, location, and purchases, among other things.

For comparison, Bluesky may link contact information, user content, and identifiers. Twitter says it can track users via purchases, contact information, location, contacts, and browsing history.

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prefix 11 months ago
What's all of this "chaos at Twitter"you keep referring to? Twitter was a company hemorrhaging money and Musk had to take drastic action to stop it. Also, people are angry because he has made it a platform more settled on open Free Speech instead of the platform it used to be which was a platform that controlled speech specifically to push a one sided narrative. This has caused the true close minded to lash out and call it a platform full of Hate Speech etc. Anyone who truly understands the meaning of Free Speech also is wise enough to understand that Free Speech is not about protecting the speech you agree with but protecting the speech you DISAGREE with. The true anti Free Speech advocates refer to that as Hate Speech!
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