IF YOU RECEIVED an Instagram notification this morning about a follower having “posted on Threads for the first time” and wondered whether it was a glitch or just another niche new update (has anyone actually used ‘Notes’ seriously?) — it’s not. In fact, it’s a whole new app by the team dominating the social media stratosphere. Overnight, Meta launched “Threads, an Instagram app,” with the intention of rivalling Twitter in the micro-blogging space. Already, it’s rolled out to 100 countries including the US, Canada, Britain, Japan and yes, Australia, several hours ahead of its original plans.
In a nutshell, Threads invites Instagram users to sign up for the new app directly from their OG account (it’s directly linked to Instagram, not Facebook) and allows users to keep their current username and following from the popular photo-based platform. But what exactly is Threads — and has anyone note-worthy signed up yet? Could it actually spell the end of Elon Musk’s problematic and tightly-guarded Twitter kingdom? Here’s what we know so far.
What is Threads?
Playfully dubbed the “Twitter killer”, Threads is the written memo equivalent of the colossal and arguably, more engaged Instagram community. From today, the Instagram community (which makes up a reported 2 billion monthly active users) will be able to import their current accounts into Threads, now available via Apple’s App store. Meta describes it as a “text-based conversation app” allowing communities “to come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow.” But unlike Twitter’s limited 280-character threshold, users get a meaty 500-characters to share their daily (hourly?) musings and memes — which can also include links, photos and videos up to five minutes long. And aside from starting a new thread, you can also like, reply, re-post or quote a “thread” — much like its source of inspiration, Twitter.
While being a standalone app, users will be able to log in with their existing Instagram names — but if you fancy a social refresh, there’s an option to customise your cute new profile. Those foreign to the Meta-verse will have to set up an Instagram account to access the app, however.
You can also retain your current Instagram followers list — because it takes time to accumulate that influence, right? — and action most of the other Insta functions such as unfollow, block, restrict and report. So, if you’ve blocked Uncle Gavin on Instagram because he always finds a way to lambast your social shenanigans during fam reunions, don’t worry — his prying eyes won’t be privy to your late-night thoughts.
“Just like on Instagram, with Threads you can follow and connect with friends and creators who share your interests — including the people you follow on Instagram and beyond,” Meta shared in a statement.
“Whether you’re a creator or a casual poster, Threads offers a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.”
Meanwhile, its billionaire owner Mark Zuckerberg — who also owns two chatting apps, Messenger and WhatsApp, on top of Instagram and Facebook — fired up the Meta world, writing: “Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads” with a classic fire emoji during its announcement two days ago.
Have any celebrities signed up to Threads so far?
Yes, a heap of your favourite celebrities have already made their way to Threads — and oddly, many of them have the common thread (sorry) of having attended Michael Rubin’s exclusive annual White Party during the July Fourth holiday weekend in America. Perhaps they all signed up together between reportedly sipping on $700 bottles of champagne and tequila?
Nonetheless, musical divas Jennifer Lopez and Shakira are on board; NFL GOAT Tom Brady and young British F1 driver Lando Norris have both signed up; and even Gordon Ramsay is adding a little heat to the app with his membership. “Is this where I find the lamb sauce ??” he quipped, in reference to an iconic 2006 episode of Hell’s Kitchen.
What has Elon Musk said about Threads?
Not much, but just you wait. After challenging his arch-rich-nemesis Mark Zuckerberg to a literal cage fight last month (still unsure if petitioned in jest or not?), Elon Musk has remained relatively coy about Threads’ impact on his blue tick baby. Although, he did take a little swipe at the app’s data privacy concerns in the comments section of a few tweets — naturally.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey highlighted one of the app’s major drawbacks, posting a screenshot of the Threads disclosure statement and captioning it: “All your Threads are belong to us”. Even though Twitter is guilty of mining similar information from its users, Musk joined in with a simple “yeah” before going full mock mode. Referencing a recent Meta meeting, which saw an exec declare Threads to be “sanely run” compared with Musk’s erratic leadership at Twitter, the world’s wealthiest man commented: “Thank goodness they’re so sanely run” on crypto giant/user Mario Nawfal’s post detailing some of the user data Threads would obtain.
What are the privacy concerns around Threads?
Meta has certainly given us little assurance about safekeeping our private data, particularly after it was fined a record €1.2 billion (AU $1.95bn) in May for mishandling people’s data when transferring between Europe and the US. Last September, Irish regulators also fined Instagram €405 million (AU $659m) for violating children’s privacy, by making phone numbers and email addresses publicly available to those who had upgraded to business accounts.
This time, Meta is a little more up-front about their data collecting policy. How comforting!
Threads says it could “collect” users’ data such as health and fitness, search and browsing history, financial info, purchases, contacts, location and user content, amongst other “privacy practices,” according to its data privacy disclosure via the App Store. So, you know, not much (insert eye roll here). Although, Meta claims its data withdrawal process helps provide a “personalised experience” for Threads members — while also protecting people “from harm and provide safe, secure Products.”
While being now available to use in more than 100 countries, the European Union is not among those, due to their strict data rules — that may change though.
Whether regulatory concerns are enough of a download deterrent for Instagram users remains to be seen. But as more and more Twitter users become disenfranchised by the Tesla founder’s controversial Twitterzoid — particularly, after announcing a slew of new restrictions on the app, including limiting the number of tweets users could see per day — we can’t say we’d be overly surprised if Gen Z move onto the text-based app to share their favourite excerpts from Drake’s poetry book — and generally, waffle on.
Can you delete Threads?
Apparently not. Much like how you enter Threads with Instagram, you leave Threads … also with Instagram. In other words, you delete Threads — you delete Instagram. “Some settings, like deleting your account, apply to both Threads and Instagram and can be managed on Instagram,” Meta says. Instead, if you want to keep your glossy first-born (Instagram), you can simply “deactivate” your Threads profile under the ‘Account’ function on the app. But, it’s timed for a week. Still unclear as to whether your Instagram/Threads deletes on its own if you go beyond the maximum seven days of deactivation. Meta’s advice? “If you don’t want to deactivate your profile but want to change who can see your posts, you can set your profile to private or block someone’s profile.”