Meta launches Twitter rival app Threads
Updated 09:48, 06-Jul-2023
Meta's Threads app and Twitter logos are seen in this illustration, July 4, 2023. /Reuters
Meta's Threads app and Twitter logos are seen in this illustration, July 4, 2023. /Reuters

Meta's Threads app and Twitter logos are seen in this illustration, July 4, 2023. /Reuters

Meta on Wednesday officially launched a new app called Threads which will be a direct rival of social network Twitter.

Called Threads, the new offering is billed as a text-based version of Meta's photo-sharing app Instagram that the company says provides "a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations."

The app is live in Apple and Google Android app stores in more than 100 countries including the U.S., Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan.

Users will get a Twitter-like microblogging experience, according to screenshots provided to media, suggesting that Meta Platforms has been gearing up to directly challenge the platform after Musk's tumultuous ownership has resulted in a series of unpopular changes that have turned off users and advertisers.

There are buttons to like, repost, reply to or quote a "thread," and counters showing the number of likes and replies that a post has received.

"Our vision is that Threads will be a new app more focused on text and dialogue, modeled after what Instagram has done for photo and video," the company said.

Posts are limited to 500 characters, which is more than Twitter's 280-character threshold, and can include links, photos and videos up to five minutes long.

Instagram users will be able to log in with their existing usernames and follow the same accounts on the new app. New users will have to set up an Instagram account.

Analysts said investors were salivating over the possibility that Threads' ties to Instagram might give it a built-in user base and advertising apparatus, which could siphon ad dollars from Twitter as its new CEO tries to revive the microblogging company's struggling business.

The app also benefits from the failure of other would-be Twitter competitors to take advantage of the service's stumbles. While a number of new and burgeoning competitors such as Mastodon, Post and T2 have tried to lure Twitter users away, all remain relatively small so far.

Meta has suffered multiple failures launching standalone copycat apps in the past, most notably its Lasso app aimed at competing with short video rival TikTok.

The company later incorporated a short video tool directly into Instagram and more recently wound down its unit tasked with designing experimental apps as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Another potential strike against Threads is that the news-oriented culture on Twitter is different from that on Instagram, a more visual platform, said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence.

"The main use cases for Twitter still remain keeping up with news and world events," said Enberg. "I find it hard to imagine that the most avid loyal Twitter users who go to Twitter for that type of culture will defect and go immediately to Threads."

Still, she said, Meta only needs to convince a quarter of Instagram's users to join Threads in order to rival Twitter's size. "The reality is that Meta doesn't need to convert Twitter power users into Threads users."

(With input from agencies)

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