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Twitter rival ‘Threads’ notches up 10m users in seven hours

Lungile Msomi
By Lungile Msomi
Johannesburg, 06 Jul 2023

Meta’s much-anticipated text-based Threads app registered 10 million sign-ups in its first seven hours, according to a post on the platform by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads,” Zuckerberg wrote in his first post on the app. “Just passed five million sign-ups in the first four hours.”

Later on, Zuckerberg, who already has over 500 000 followers on the platform, said: “10 million sign-ups in seven hours.”

Much like Twitter, Threads features short texts that users can like, re-post and reply to, but currently does not include any direct message capabilities. Posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos and videos up to five minutes in length, according to a blog post by Meta.

While Threads launched as a standalone app, users can link their Instagram accounts using their Instagram credentials. Users can also choose to follow the same accounts as they do on Instagram, or find new followers.

The core accessibility features available on Instagram today, such as screen reader support and artificial intelligence-generated image descriptions, are also enabled on Threads.

The app is available to download from the App Store and Google Play Store in over 100 countries, except Europe, where Meta has not prepared the service due to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act.

Under the Act, companies such as Meta face restrictions on how they mingle users’ personal data.

According to the app description on the App Store, Threads collects various data from users, including location, contact info, browsing history, identifiers, contacts and financial info.

Safety issues

Meta says to keep users safe, Threads follows existing Instagram community guidelines. This allows users to control who they want to mention and who can reply to them. Hidden words can be filtered and replies that contain those specific words will not show up on the feed. Any accounts blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads.

Users who are under the age of 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will be defaulted into a private profile when they join Threads.

There has been mixed reaction to the introduction of Threads to the world of social media, with many users deciding to stick to Twitter, while some are happy to be on the new platform.

One user said syncing the Threads app with Instagram is a bad idea. “Twitter is a vibe! Threads just looks like a clone of Instagram.”

Another user was impressed with the platform’s easy sign-up process. “I just created my account on Threads, the new Twitter by Meta. The account creation experience is excellent; you can import your Instagram data, use the same username and follow all your Instagram followers.”

Although created by social media giant Meta, there have been a few issues on the first day of the new app’s availability.

These include users saying they cannot view quotes to their threads, the bookmark feature is not yet available, the app seems to be refreshing quite slowly, and many are complaining there needs to be a “for you” tab, much like the one on Twitter.

Another issue is that some people have been downloading the wrong app. There is already an app called Threads on app stores, which describes itself as “a simple, focused canvas for sharing work and getting rich feedback in return”. Some have mistakenly downloaded it, which has led to confusion.

Meta says it will continue to make changes to its app, such as improved recommendation in feed and a more robust search function.

There are also plans to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open social networking protocol established by the World Wide Web Consortium, the body responsible for the open standards that power the modern web.

According to Meta, making Threads compatible with ActivityPub would make it consistent with other apps that also support the ActivityPub protocol, such as Mastodon and WordPress.

“We’re committed to giving you more control over your audience on Threads – our plan is to work with ActivityPub to provide you the option to stop using Threads and transfer your content to another service.

“Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa, ushering in a new era of diverse and interconnected networks,” Meta said in a blog post.

Imminent cage fight

The release of Threads comes as a relief for some after Twitter’s Elon Musk announced limitations to the number of posts users can view per day. Verified users can only read 10 000 posts per day, while the limit is 1 000 posts per day for unverified and 500 posts per day for new unverified users.

Tensions have been rising between Musk and Zuckerberg, with Musk challenging Zuckerberg to a “cage match” after the Meta founder suggested Twitter was not run “sanely”.

With over five million sign-ups in the first four hours, Threads will encourage other social media platforms, such as Jack Dorsey’s BlueSky.

The decentralised social media platform is set to launch later this year and has already reached over 60 000 users, despite not yet being released.