As Twitter continues to shape-shift –– implementing tweet view limits, putting its TweetDeck behind a paywall –– Meta is hyping its social messaging competitor Threads, poised to launch on Thursday (there’s even a countdown website).
“Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow,” Meta states on the app store. “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.”
As previously noted, Threads resembles Twitter in almost every way. But given advertisers’ continued frustration at Elon Musk’s unpredictable changes in Twitter’s policies -- not to mention ongoing brand-safety issues -- many advertisers are hoping the new platform will prove a viable alternative for budget investment. Especially after TweetDeck –– the interface businesspeople use to schedule tweets –– becomes exclusive to Twitter Blue subscribers.
Thanks to the chaos at Twitter since Musk took control last year, some users have been migrating to alternative social messaging apps. That trend may be accelerating already, prior to the advent of Threads: Over the past weekend, competitors including Spill, Bluesky and Post saw significant growth.
Spill, founded by Black ex-Twitter employees just a few weeks ago, pulled more than 100,000 new accounts over the weekend, as Lizzo and Questlove tweeted about the app. Jack Dorsey’s invite-only Bluesky app gained 54,000 new users between Friday and Monday.
Threads’ biggest advantage over Twitter –– one that’s shared by pretty much all Meta ventures –– is starting life with a huge user base. Instagram’s billion monthly active users will be able to transfer their personal details, followers and following lists “seamlessly” to Threads — an offer that Meta is betting will be embraced by large numbers.
However, the app store listing doesn’t give much information about Threads, and recent comments and leaks have fed confusion about whether its structure will be centralized, like Twitter’s and Instagram’s, or decentralized like Mastodon, where users’ data is distributed over independent servers via the ActivityPub network.
In recent weeks, an Instagram spokesperson said that Threads is decentralized, and leaked slides from a briefing with creators indicating that the platform will be compatible with Mastodon. But how a centralized app like Instagram could be compatible with a famously decentralized app like Mastodon is baffling, and may play a part in how brands approach the new app.