What is Meta Threads? Instagram platform explained

Everything you need to know about Meta's new app Threads, explained

What is Threads? Instagram platform explained. Image shows Threads logo on a background of a light purple gradient

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If you haven’t heard by now, Meta has officially joined the competition to create a Twitter rival with their new messaging app, Threads. Millions of users downloaded it within the first few hours of its launch on Wednesday, but what exactly is Threads? Even before it got released a day early, this swanky new app has been making a stir in the social media market as tech giant Meta’s latest venture. We’ve explained everything you need to know about the Instagram platform Threads right here.

What is Meta Threads?

Threads is a text-based social media platform that has been designed by Meta, formerly known as Facebook, as a companion app to Instagram. With users able to share ideas and opinions in 500-character text posts, you can have real-time public conversations. There is of course the option to also add photos, videos, and GIFS. Users can like, reply, and re-post users’ threads, with content all tied together by a scrolling-style feed. No doubt, there are lots of parallels to Twitter. However, one of the main pull-ins of Threads is the fact that it directly links to your Instagram account. Meta‘s blog post neatly describes the vision they want to create as “what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas”.

With Instagram having over 1 billion users worldwide, creator Mark Zuckerberg seems to have his eyes set on the same number of users for Threads. At the time of writing, there have been over 70 million sign-ups since the launch of Threads. This is not the only ambition set out by Meta for what this new app will achieve. Eventually, Meta says it will be interoperable with other apps, such as Mastodon and WordPress, that support the ActivityPub protocol for open social networking. Twitter alternative Bluesky taps into a similar approach to decentralizing social media. Although you currently need an Instagram account to access Threads, it might not be this way forever as we move forward into an era of interconnected networks.

What does the Threads app do?

The Threads app will give you access to Meta’s text-based conversation app. By logging in with your current Instagram credentials, you can create a profile that transfers your username and followers into Threads so you can start posting text updates straight away. Similar to tweets, users can share their emotions and ideas in 500-character text posts that you can be like, reply to, and repost.

If you wanted to know if you can use Threads, it is free and now available to download on iOS and Android from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store in over 100 countries. This includes the US and the UK, but unfortunately, it is not yet available in the European Union yet due to data regulations.

Unfortunately, it does seem that to use a Threads account, you will need to agree to Meta’s extensive privacy policy. Although the Threads terms of use are pretty much the same as Instagram’s, there is a long list of data requirements for Threads on the App Store that include some sensitive information. You can read in more detail here if you’re wondering if Threads is safe, but be reassured that there is no current reason why it wouldn’t be.

Is Threads the same as Twitter?

No, Threads is not the same as Twitter, but it is a Twitter competitor. A lot of the basic functions are the same in terms of how the apps work as social media, like posting and replying to tweets, and following certain topics. However, Threads lacks the function of using hashtags on posts, which is a core feature of Twitter. If you want to find out more about the similarities and differences between the two and why social media users are torn, you can read on about Twitter vs Threads in more detail. This stands as another chapter in the rivalry between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, and we’ll have to wait to see how it unfolds as increasing amounts of Twitter users seek alternative platforms.

It might actually be the case that Meta’s Threads app has taken copycat a step too far. Just days after its early July launch, it seems that Twitter is threatening Threads with legal action. In a letter to Meta 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.

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.