Instagram Threads is to Twitter What YouTube Shorts is to TikTok

They might just co-exist.

Threads is Meta’s new mainstream text-based social media platform. Some are calling it the “Twitter Killer” while others believe it’s just a glorified clone. The app launched on July 6th, 2023, and in just 48 hours it had gained over 80 million users. Whatever you label it as, it’s certainly the talk of the town right now so here’s everything you need to know about Threads.

Signing up on Threads

To use Threads, you’ll simply need to download the app via the Play Store, or the App Store. It currently doesn’t have a website, but you can view Threads using a link. It is currently available for over 100 countries, in 30 different languages.

Meta | Threads

To sign up, you just need an Instagram account. If you don’t have one, you will need to create a new one, and log in with your credentials. Threads carries over all your data from Instagram, even your username, and assigns you a unique ID.

Once you sign up, you’ll see a feed of posts from people you follow (carried over from Instagram), and other recommended creators (Similar to Twitter, but there, you have separate tabs for each). On these posts, you have the option to react, comment, and share.

You can share any post via a link to other platforms, or put it as your Instagram story. In addition to all this, like Instagram, you can control who can view, and reply on your posts.

Meta didn’t just wake up and decide to make Threads

Meta didn’t get the idea to develop the Threads app just out of the blue. There were a few event that led them to this decision.

Elon’s Takeover & Policy Changes

To understand this fully, we’ll need to roll back to October 2022, when Elon Musk became the company’s majority shareholder, and then came to the seat as Twitter’s CEO. He had his own vision for what a social media platform should be, and he started making changes to Twitter.

Elon Musk | IGN

One of the changes Musk made was to revamp the verification system. He started charging users for verification, and he also focused on bringing in more ad revenue.

Musk also laid off thousands of Twitter employees. He said that he didn’t think they were competent enough, but some people believe that he laid them off because they were critical of his policies.

At the same time, Twitter started banning anyone who criticized the company. This was a time when Musk was being seen as a major advocate for free speech, so you can understand why people felt that their trust was betrayed.

At this point, the whole chaos had become a worldwide headline, and there were rumors that Elon may step down too. This also widened the gap between the users and Twitter, as every change was being done to maximize profits, and users didn’t feel secure.

This is when Meta started to think about developing Threads. They saw an opportunity to create a social media platform that was more focused on users and less focused on profits.

Meta Discusses a Twitter Alternative

In November 2022, employees at Meta, discussed building a Twitter alternative. Initially, the idea was Instagram Notes, a text feature on Instagram.

In January, news broke Meta is working on a secret project. The project later revealed to be a standalone app that would support ActivityPub, a decentralized networking protocol. This protocol was also used by Mastodon, a Twitter competitor.

In March, Moneycontrol obtained internal information about the project, codenamed “Project 92” and disclosed that Meta was indeed working on an app, similar to Twitter. Around that time, Mastodon’s account had been banned from Twitter, and around 200 more employees had been laid off. After the article gained attention, Meta officially confirmed that they were working on Project 92.

In June, The Verge obtained inside photographs of Threads (yes, the article also confirmed the name) and reported that celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama would be joining the app when it released.

A Meta executive also mentioned how Threads would be an app that’s “sanely run”, whatever that is referring to. Fast-forward to July, this is when the app surfaced on the App Store on 3rd, and launched three days later, on the 6th.

Why are people excited about Threads?

Part of the reason for Threads’ success is its clever marketing. Meta has done a great job of positioning Threads as the “new Twitter,” a more intimate and personal platform where users can connect in a more meaningful way.

The app’s design also plays a role in its appeal. Threads is a simple, easy-to-use app that is perfect for people who want to get away from the noise and clutter of other social media platforms.

But perhaps the most important factor in Threads’ success is its timing. Twitter has been struggling in recent years, and many users are looking for a new platform that offers a better experience. Threads is perfectly positioned to fill that void.

“You’ve Been Zucked”, Mark Zuckerberg’s Street Art | Unsplash

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Threads will be able to sustain its early momentum. However, if Meta can continue to execute on its marketing strategy, there is no reason why Threads couldn’t become the next big thing in social media.

Threads uses FOMO to lure everyone into signing up

Now, why would someone, who’s on Twitter would want to switch over to a completely new platform, when he’s been on one for years, or in many cases, more than a decade.

Well, what’s the ONE reason people are reluctant trying out new platforms? They just don’t have enough people you could connect with… After all, why would you want to sign up for a platform where no one else is?

But, in Threads’ case, they managed to eradicate this problem with a stroke of pure genius.

First off, Threads automatically adds your Instagram followers to your account. If you’re following someone on Instagram, and they’re on Threads, you’ll be following them here too!

This is a huge deal, as it means that when you sign up for Threads, you’re immediately connected to all of your friends and family who are already using the app. This gives you a huge head start in terms of building your audience, and it also makes Threads feel more like a community.

Threads | Meta

In addition to this, Threads uses a numbering system to rank users based on how quickly they signed up. Now, why would anyone want to do this. Well, this is a clever way to create a sense of urgency and FOMO (a fear of missing out). When you see that the platform’s starting to pick up the pace, you’re more likely to feel like you need to sign up right away so that you don’t miss out.

Also, Threads lets you preemptively add people who haven’t joined yet, using the Instagram accounts you’re following. This creates a whole ecosystem in a really calculated way, and what better company that knows how to do this than Meta itself. But why is this important?

This is another way to create a sense of community and belonging. When you add someone to your Threads account, it sends them a notification letting them know that you’re waiting for them to join. This makes them more likely to sign up, because they don’t want to miss out on what’s happening.

Similarities and Differences between Threads & Twitter

So, is it really that easy to sideline a mainstream platform that’s been around for over a decade and a half?

Well, there is no denying that the initial concept is almost identical, as Meta has built up on the idea of Twitter, to beat Twitter. Everyone’s talking about the similarities, but to get to the bottom of this, we need to take a closer look at what makes Twitter and Threads DIFFERENT.

Zuckerberg on Threads | Meta

So, for the basics, Threads doesn’t have a dedicated website, but Twitter does. Threads also doesn’t have the ability to edit posts, see your own liked posts, message someone and doesn’t have a “Following” page. It also doesn’t ask you to pay for verification, as it carries over from your Instagram account. In addition to this, you get no-ads on Threads.

You can post text up to 500 characters (although it lacks an indicator, for when you’re nearing that limit), a major step-up from the 280 on Twitter, and you don’t have to pay to use the platform after a particular time. On Twitter, you are restricted to see a set number of posts every day, unless you pay to increase that limit.

Threads basically has everything that Twitter has, minus the money-making unpopular policies, but it still isn’t perfect.

Threads’ Privacy Concerns

There have been privacy concerns regarding the app from day one of launch, and how it collects a HUGE chunk of information from its users. Take a look at the picture below:

Threads (right) collects significantly more data from its users than Twitter (left) on iOS. | App Store

The amount of data Threads is asking from you is astonishing even for a social media app, but quite in character for someone like Meta. In fact, these requirements are so ridiculous that the app can’t even launch in the EU at the moment due to its stricter privacy laws. After all, why does Threads need my Health & Fitness data for?

The Dangers for Twitter

Within 48 hours of its launch, Threads had become the fastest downloaded app in the history. See, Meta already had a platform with a text-based feed in the shape of Facebook, but then, why did they spend so many resources on Threads?

To answer this question, consider this: Most of you reading this probably don’t use just platform for everything. There’s WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram and so on. Each of these platforms has a unique identity offering something different to everyone.

With Threads in the picture, Twitter is in danger of losing users. Threads fills the gap in Twitter’s policies, basically being Twitter but with less money-making tactics and a more user-centric approach. This resonates with people, meaning a lot of them are less likely to use both apps at the same time.

Twitter, on the other hand couldn’t sit idly too. Seeing this sudden rise in popularity, Twitter had to do something, and so, what they did was that they threatened to sue Meta for allegedly using former Twitter employees and secrets to build Threads.

But then again, it was Elon who had overbearingly fired those employees in a fit of rage, most of whom were critical of his policies.

Is Threads compatible with other social media apps?

At the moment, Threads isn’t part of the ActivityPub, but Meta has plans to make it compatible in the future.

ActivityPub is an open social networking protocol that allows different apps to communicate with each other. This means that if Threads is compatible with ActivityPub, users would be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account.

This would also make it possible for users to share their Threads posts to other apps, such as Mastodon and WordPress. Now why is this important?

The importance of Decentralized Social Networking

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all examples of closed social platforms. This means that they have their own audience and following, and if you’re a creator, you need to build your audience separately on each platform. This can be a lot of work, and it can also be risky. If one platform gets shut down or changes its policies, you could lose all of your followers.

The concept of a decentralized network is hard to explain, but in simple terms, your audience is not tied to any one platform. You can post your content on any platform that supports the network, and your followers will be able to see it no matter where they are. This gives you more freedom and security as a creator.

A centralized network connects all computers to one main center |

However, if all these were part of a decentralized platform, you could post a tweet, and it could be liked and interacted with on Facebook, Instagram, and others.

Email is a good example of a decentralized network. When you send an email, it doesn’t matter what email service the recipient uses. Your email will still be delivered. This is because email is based on a standard protocol that all email services support.

If I’m using Gmail and want to send a mail to someone with a Yahoo account, I wouldn’t have to make an account on Yahoo, I could simply do so from Gmail. Meta plans to do the same for Threads in the future.

Zuck’s a Pure Genius!

We have seen how, over the years, Meta has evolved into this company that caters to the market trends. In 2012, it saw potential in Instagram, and purchased it. Two years later, acquired WhatsApp too. In 2016, saw the rising popularity of Snapchat, and introduced Instagram Stories. During COVID, as TikTok blew up, and so, Facebook and Instagram introduced Reels, as an alternative short-form video content.

Now, seeing the gap, Zuck chipped in with Threads at the best time possible, and all of this has given results too! To end, all there is to say is that Mark’s a pure genius of the industry! Now it’s too early to say whether his latest experiment will turn into another success story, but all signs point towards a favorable outcome.

Mark Zuckerberg in front of his empire | WWD

Twitter is too big to fall overnight. Elon hasn’t completely derailed the platform yet and he’d have to royally mess up to do so. Things are not pretty right now but they could be a lot worse, and with the introduction of Threads, I imagine people over at the blue bird are panicking to get their act together, kind of like Google reacting to ChatGPT.

But what I really think will happen is, equilibrium. Remember how TikTok ran rampant and invaded every corner of the internet? Then YouTube copied it with their YouTube Shorts and thanks to the existing user-base, Shorts really took off. Now, creators regularly upload their videos to both services, living in harmony. Perhaps that’s the future for Threads and Twitter.

Follow Appuals on Threads

We, too, are available on Threads, so make sure to go on there and drop us a follow! Till then, we’ll make sure to keep you updated on all the latest developments regarding the new Twitter as new information becomes available.

Appuals on Instagram Threads

Muhammad Qasim

Qasim's deep love for technology and gaming drives him to not only stay up-to-date on the latest developments but also to share his informed perspectives with others through his writing. Whether through this or other endeavors, he is committed to sharing his expertise and making a meaningful contribution to the world of tech and gaming.
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