According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s Twitter rival Threads saw five million sign-ups in its first four hours of operation. The company is trying to lure users away from Elon Musk’s troubled platform with longer posts, a few celebrity backers, and a striking resemblance to its rival.
The app is now freely available in 100 countries on the Apple and Google app stores, though it won’t be available in the EU due to regulatory concerns. The Facebook and Instagram owner accelerated the app’s launch by 15 hours to 7pm EDT in the US and midnight in the UK.
Within minutes of launch, brands like Billboard, HBO, NPR, and Netflix had accounts set up. According to Meta, Shakira and Gordon Ramsay were among the first celebrities to lend support to the project. Furthermore, according to a recent report, Meta made approaches to involve Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama as well.
Thread users will need an Instagram account to log in. Once they have signed up, they can choose to follow the same accounts they follow on Instagram, if they too have joined the new app.
Visually, the app closely resembles Twitter, although it has made changes to the wording.Meta has shown a tendency to replicate competitor products in the past, as seen with the 2020 launch of Instagram’s Reels feature. This feature was notably similar to TikTok’s short-form videos.
Meta’s Threads allows users to compose posts of up to 500 characters, surpassing the typical 280-character limit on Twitter. Additionally, users can share videos lasting up to five minutes and distribute posts as links across various platforms. Users can unfollow, block, restrict or report others. Users can also filter out replies with certain words in them.
Meta has launched Threads in the wake of another turbulent period at Twitter, which imposed tweet viewing limits at the weekend in a move it blamed partly on data harvesting by companies building artificial intelligence models.
In subsequent Threads posts, Zuckerberg addressed those challenges. “I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will,” he wrote.
The debut on Wednesday elicited a range of reactions, from caution to enthusiasm. Many users praised the app’s ease of use, while some expressed the opinion that Elon Musk should be worried. Others pointed out the app’s speedy integration with Instagram showed just how powerful Meta has become. Much of the conversation, ironically, took place on Twitter, where the hashtag “Threads” was trending on Wednesday evening.
After news broke about Zuckerberg’s upcoming unveiling of Threads, it seemed that the Facebook founder and Musk had agreed to settle the matter with a cage fight. However, no date has been set yet for this unlikely confrontation.