Skip to content

What is Threads? Everything you need to know about Meta's new Twitter rival platform

Threads, the latest launch from social media company Meta, has seen ten million sign-ups in its first seven hours – with many more on the horizon as the app sees to convert a chunk of the 2.35 billion active users on Instagram (the platform which is it powered by). Instagram users, us included, may well have woken up today to a notification that informed them that one or two of their followers “posted for the first time on Threads”.

If you've ever used Twitter, it's impossible not to see the resemblance between this platform and the newest social medium. Threads – the name itself reminiscent of one of Twitter's most popular functions, where you can link multiple tweets together – launched at 12:00am today, Thursday 6 July. Threads, by Instagram is a “text-based conversation app” (according to its listing on the Apple Store, where it is currently in the position of #1 for all social networking apps) where users can share their thoughts and everyday observations with their audience.

It's available to download in over 100 countries, including the UK, although due to regulatory restrictions it is not currently available within the EU.

The new app is widely understood to be a response to widespread user dissatisfaction with Twitter, a platform that has undergone a number of substantial changes since it was taken over by Elon Musk in October 2022.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta (the company that owns Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp) has said in a statement, posted to Threads, that the platform's goal will be “to keep it friendly as it expands,” adding: “I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success”.

Asked on Threads whether the app will be “bigger” than Twitter, Zuckerberg responded: ""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."

Here's what you need to know about the most talked-about new social media platform of the moment.

What is Threads?

Threads is “Instagram's text-based conversation app”, the app listing reads, explaining further that “Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow.” (so far it's Twitter, tbh…).

It continues: "Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favourite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world."

It allows users to share individual posts of up to 500 characters (take that, Twitter's 280 character limit), together with links, photos or videos up to five minutes in length (on Twitter, the video length limit is currently two minutes and 20 seconds). As with the current versions of Instagram and Twitter, the Threads timeline is algorithm-based, rather than chronological – rewarding highly-engaged posts by bringing them to the top of a timeline.

Threads will follow the same “Community Guidelines” as Instagram, for instance restricting spam and nudity.

How do I get started on Threads?

Those already using Instagram can carry over their username and followers to Threads – which may well give this technology the edge on other Twitter lookalike platforms such as Mastodon and BlueSky, which users have been slowly moving to follow Musk's takeover.

That means, if you're already on Instagram you can simply download the app from Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and then sign in with your usual Instagram account details. If you're not yet on Instagram, you'll have to create an Instagram account in order use Threads (as it's powered by the former).

One thing to mention is that, at time of writing, it doesn't seem possible to delete your Threads account without deleting your Instagram account too.

How is Threads different to Twitter?

It would be impossible not to compare and contrast Threads with its lookalike Twitter. As mentioned earlier, Threads allows for lengthier content formats than Twitter, both in its 500-character limit and five minute video length limits.

However, unlike Twitter, it does not currently have a “Direct Message" function (it's unknown whether this might be added at a later date in response to user feedback.

One interesting addition on the horizon is the possibility that users might be given “ownership” over their follower list. According to head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, Threads will also be integrating a protocol called ActivityPub, a “decentralised social network” used by the likes of Mastodon that allows users to “own” their follower list and take them to another social platform if desired. Although it is still yet to be widely understood how this works, it might be similar to an email list – whereby newsletter creators can move their mailing community across different platforms, for instance Substack and MailChimp, seamlessly.

Who is using Threads?

Celebrities becoming early adopters of Threads include the likes of Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Oprah Winfrey and Gordon Ramsey – with more surely to follow in the coming days and weeks.

This article was originally published on Glamour UK.

Share this article: