The new microblogging app Threads launched by Meta to take on Twitter logged 5 million sign-ups within a mere four hours of its operation, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, brought forward the app’s debut by 15 hours to 7pm EDT in the US and midnight in the UK, making it freely available in 100 countries on the Apple and Google app stores, although regulatory concerns mean it will not be available in the EU, according to a report in The Guardian.
Threads allows users to retain followers from photo-sharing platform Instagram, and keep the same username which is a major advantage for the new app as it can draw from a huge ready-made base of users. In fact, Meta just needs one-fourth of its Instagram users to catch up with Threads to rival Twitter’s user base.
But opinion among experts is sharply divided on whether Threads can outperform Twitter which is going through its share of troubles after Elon Musk bought the app for $44 billion last year.
Some experts are of the view that the news-oriented outlook of Twitter will be difficult to replace by Instagram which is primarily a visual platform.
Responding to a question on whether Threads can become bigger than Twitter, Zuckerberg said, “It’ll take some time, but 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.”
Zuckerberg introduced Threads as an “open and friendly public space for conversation”. He added that the idea is to “take the best parts of Instagram and create a new experience”.
Currently Twitter’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino is ting ry to revive the struggling business.
Interestingly, Zuckerberg returned to Twitter after 11 years to drop a meme after the Threads launch.
Brands such as Billboard, HBO, NPR and Netflix had accounts set up within minutes of launch. Meta said initial celebrity backers included Shakira and Gordon Ramsay, with a recent report suggesting that Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama had also been approached, The Guardian reported.
The app closely resembles Twitter visually, although some of the wording has been changed, with retweets called “reposts” and tweets called “threads”.
Posts on Threads can be 500 characters long, compared with 280 for most Twitter users, and videos of up to five minutes in length can be posted while a post can be as a link on other 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.