Twitter rival Threads clocks 10 million downloads within seven hours of launch. Twitter threatens to sue.

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

July 6, 2023

4 Min Read
Meta

At a Glance

  • Meta, seeing an opening amid Twitter's chaos under Elon Musk, launches a rival: Threads
  • AI Business breaks down what you need to know about Threads.
  • However, a day before launch, Twitter's lawyer threatened Meta with a lawsuit for its 'copycat' app.

Threads, Meta’s answer to Twitter, is here. Threads is available in 100 countries on both the Apple and Android app stores.

On July 5, the day before Threads launched, it was the most searched term in the U.S., according to Google Trends. Just seven hours after launch, Threads surpassed 10 million downloads. Meta said the app offers “a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.”

“Our vision with Threads is to take what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas,” Meta said.

Meta said it’s working to make Threads compatible with other social networks. The parent company also owns Facebook, WhatsApp and the VR platform Meta Quest.

But a day before the launch, Twitter lawyer Alex Spiro sent a letter to Zuckerberg threatening legal action for allegedly engaging in "systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter's trade secrets and other intellectual property," according to documents obtained by Semafor. Twitter accused Meta of hiring dozens of its former employees who "had and continue to have" access to Twitter's trade secrets and other "highly confidential" information.

These former Twitter staff were "deliberately assigned" to develop "in a matter of months," Meta's "copycat 'Threads' app "in violation of state and federal law." Also, Twitter said Meta is "expressly prohibited" from scraping of Twitter's followers or following data without prior consent.

Follow AI Business on Threads: @_AIGroup

Threads was launched as a thinly veiled rival to Twitter. Since taking over the social network last October, Tesla founder Elon Musk has overseen turbulent times for Twitter, with advertisers pulling out and users quitting the platform in droves. Meta saw an opening for a competing platform.

“I think there should be a public conversations app with one billion+ people on it,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it.” Twitter's last quarterly earnings report before Musk took it private showed 237.8 million monetizable daily active usage for Q2 2022. Twitter stopped reporting monthly active users, the typical metric for consumer adoption, in 2019.

The impending launch of Threads goaded Musk into challenging Zuckerberg in a cage fight, although as yet no concrete date has been set for the bout.

How does Threads work?

Users need an Instagram account to log in. Instagram usernames and verifications carry over.

Posts can be up to 500 characters long. Users can also post videos up to five minutes long, compared to Twitter Blue’s two-hour cap. Threads users can also post links, with posts able to be shared as a link on other platforms.

Like Instagram, users of Threads can follow or unfollow one another, with options to block profiles and filter out certain words they don't want to see on their timelines.

How can I access Threads?

Threads is available via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. There is currently no desktop version.

Everyone who is under 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will have defaulted into a private profile when they join Threads. You can choose to follow the same accounts you do on Instagram and find more people who care about the same things you do. The core accessibility features available on Instagram today, such as screen reader support and AI-generated image descriptions, are also enabled on Threads.

Users can import who they are following on Instagram to Threads.

Can I DM other users on Threads?

Not at present. Meta has not said whether you can DM (direct message) other users like you can on Instagram and Twitter.

Does Threads have ads?

Not at present.

What’s to come?

Meta plans to make Threads compatible with the ActivityPub protocol – the open social networking protocol established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

By adhering to the W3C standard, Threads would be interoperable with other apps that support the standard, such as fellow Twitter rival Mastodon.

Meta is also planning to add features to help users discover threads and creators – including improved recommendations in newsfeeds and making the search function “more robust.”

Threads vs. Twitter: Moderation

Since the Musk takeover, Twitter has unbanned controversial users found to have violated previous terms of service, including former President Donald Trump.

Meta is positioning Threads as a safer platform, opting for a stricter approach compared with Twitter. Threads will have the same content rules as Instagram.

With plans to open the app, Meta is also allowing developers to create plugins to create “spaces that align with their values.”

“We believe this decentralized approach, similar to the protocols governing email and the web itself, will play an important role in the future of online platforms,” Meta said.

EU concerns

If you’re in the EU, you won’t be able to download Threads – yet. Reported concerns over the app’s ability to comply with the EU’s strict data privacy rules are to blame.

Wait, doesn’t Threads already exist?

Technically, yes. When Meta was still Facebook, it launched a messaging app for Instagram called Threads. It was essentially a Snapchat rival, with Threads 2019 focused on sending video and photo messages. Meta would later shut down the app in 2021 but retained the name and branding to repurpose it into the app launched today.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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