Twitter vs Threads – can Instagram tie up victory?

Here's everything we know so far about Twitter vs Meta Threads

Twitter vs Threads - what we know so far. A screen grab from the Apple App store showing phones using the Threads app.

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In these past few days, you might have seen something called Meta Threads circulating around your feed. Even if you’re not a Twitter user, news of the running of the platform by industry giant Elon Musk is pretty hard to avoid. It could be said that there is perhaps now a Twitter-sized hole in the social media market, and many apps with striking similarities to Twitter have been popping up in recent months. Threads is Meta’s latest companion app to Instagram that looks like it might be a direct Twitter rival. If you want to know more, here is a rundown of Twitter vs Threads, and how we think Twitter and Threads might weigh up based on what we’re seeing so far.

Meta Threads – an introduction

From what we can see so far, Threads is a text-based conversation app created by tech giant Meta that represents a direct challenge to Twitter. The App Store notes describe it as an app in which “communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow”. Similar to Twitter, it’s a text-based social media app where you can share opinions and ideas in 500-character text chunks. You log in using your Instagram account, so essentially, if you already use Instagram, you have a whole platform ready waiting for you.

It might not be the first time you’ve heard of Threads before. Instagram first launched a companion app called Threads in 2019 as a rival to photo-messaging platform Snapchat. However, the app’s failure to make it into the mainstream left the company choosing to shut down Threads at the end of 2021. However, although the initial Threads app didn’t make it into 2023, the name has stuck around.

Meta certainly has the resources and creativity to rival Twitter, and this new app could be seen as Instagram’s solution to the regularly occurring problems Twitter seems to be presenting. Threads is now available to download on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store in over 100 countries, including the US and UK. For the time being, it remains unavailable to download in the European Union due to its stricter data protocols.

Twitter vs Threads – similarities and differences

Similarities – Twitter vs Threads

Threads has a nearly identical user interface to Twitter. Both apps are text-based conversation platforms with a scrolling feed, that allow users to like, reply, and re-post short text threads that are basically tweets. As expected, you can also post photos and videos up to five minutes long on Threads. Like Twitters notifications tab, Threads features an Activity tab to keep track of who has followed you and liked your content. However, unlike starting from nothing when you create a new Twitter account, in Threads users will be able to link their existing Instagram profile to follow their same followers and favorite creators straight away. Meta describes the vision they want to create with Threads as “what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas”.

Differences – Twitter vs Threads

One of the main differences between Twitter and Threads so far is that Threads does not have a direct messaging service, but this could potentially be a feature that we see added as the app is further developed. Another feature currently missing on Threads is a ‘trending topics’, with the search bar seeming to only pull up accounts rather than topics or posts. This makes it less of a destination for news and popular topics than Twitter, or at least it does for now.

In terms of the character limit, Threads has a 500-character limit, which is a lot when compared to unverified Twitter users 280 maximum characters. There is a running character count in the top right corner when you’re composing your post. However, at its launch, it seems that Threads does not let you create a thread of multiple posts at once.

Unlike Twitter, so far Threads is currently fully free to use. It doesn’t look like it will have any premium subscription services, unlike Twitter Blue, which is becoming an increasingly central part of the Twitter app. Additionally, Threads has launched without any ads.

With Twitter users getting increasingly restrained by moderation, it’s good to know that it looks like Threads will not have a limit on the amount of content you can view or share each day. The Meta blog explains its ambition to make Threads compatible with the open social networking protocol ActivityPub. This is the same protocol used by Twitter competitor Mastodon, and similar to the one created by Bluesky. It’s a way to future-proof Threads as a social media, and to work towards a larger goal of the creation of a decentralized system of inter-connected networks.

Twitter vs Threads – can Meta win?

The competition between Meta and Twitter continues to heat up as they battle for the dominant position in the social media landscape. This all remains overshadowed by the ongoing rivalry between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. However, there is no clear winner as of yet. Rival apps such as Bluesky, endorsed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, and Mastodon have so far failed to knock Twitter off the top spot. In a recent thread, Mark Zuckerberg himself quoted there being 10 million downloads in just seven hours – an impressive figure that certainly shows that Threads has the potential to be Twitter’s biggest rival so far.

Threads looks like it’s shaping up to be a platform for creators and public figures to share and speak freely without moderation, in real-time digital conversations that may convince Twitter users to try it out. In spite of its initial appeal, it does look like some privacy issues might be on the cards with Threads. The app seems to need a lot of your personal data based on the app store listing – 14 parameters to be precise, including sensitive information. These include location data, search history and purchases, financial information, and contact information.

Will there be legal action?

It might be the case that Threads has taken copycat a step too far. Just days after its launch on Wednesday, it seems that Twitter is threatening Threads with legal action. In a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter lawyer Alex Spiro has accused Meta of hiring former Twitter employees to work on the Threads engineering team, and therefore exploiting trade secrets and confidential information. In a response to a tweet citing the news, Twitter owner Musk stated “Competition is fine, cheating is not”. Legal action has not yet officially been taken.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Meta Threads release date?

Threads was released on the 5th of July 2023. It is available to download on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store in over 100 countries including the US and the UK, but currently excluding the European Union.

Is there a Threads app?

Threads will be a companion app to social media platform Instagram. The Threads app is available to download on iOS and Android devices now.

Why did Threads close down?

Instagram Threads closed down in December 2021, with Meta directing users back to the Instagram direct messaging service. It closed down as many of its features and services were rolled out onto Instagram itself.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.