Friday, February 23, 2024

Instagram Takes on Elon Musk’s Twitter with Threads, a Text-First App

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According to recent information, Instagram Threads, the Twitter competitor from Meta, launched on July 6th. The evidence for this includes the presence of a ready version of the app for Apple’s iPhone on the App Store listing. Additionally, there have been sightings of what appears to be an early listing on the Google Play Store.

Meta also provided a launch date teaser within the Instagram app itself. By typing keywords like “threads” into the search box, users can trigger the appearance of a ticket icon on the search bar. Tapping on the ticket reveals a spinning ticket animation that displays the user’s Instagram username and a local launch time, which appears to be translated from 10 AM ET on July 6th. The spinning ticket also includes a QR code that directs users to threads.net, which seems to be the web portal for the new social media platform. At threads.net, a countdown timer is displayed, set to end at 10 AM ET on the 6th.

In a companywide meeting held recently, executives at Meta, the parent company of Instagram, revealed their intentions to integrate Instagram Threads with ActivityPub, a decentralized social media protocol popularized by Mastodon. This integration would allow users to leverage their Instagram credentials to log into the new app, where they would be able to seamlessly discover and connect with the accounts they follow on Instagram. Furthermore, the app’s interface would provide a text-focused social experience reminiscent of platforms such as Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, and others that prioritize written content.

The discussion during the meeting centred on Meta’s commitment to expanding the functionality of Instagram Threads by incorporating ActivityPub. By doing so, they aim to tap into the decentralized nature of the protocol, which enables users to interact and share content across multiple interconnected instances or communities. This integration would not only enhance user engagement on the app but also allow for broader connectivity and interoperability with existing decentralized social networks.

One notable comment made during the meeting by an executive sparked speculation and excitement among attendees. The executive stated,

“We’ve been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run.”

This remark ignited conversations about the potential clash between Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, and Elon Musk, the influential entrepreneur behind various ventures, including Tesla and SpaceX. The implication of the statement was that creators and public figures were seeking an alternative platform that offers a more controlled and well-managed environment, possibly pitting Zuckerberg’s vision against Musk’s aspirations in the realm of social media.

The integration of Instagram Threads with ActivityPub represents a strategic move by Meta to address the evolving demands and interests of its user base. By embracing decentralized protocols and fostering connections with existing social networks, Meta aims to create a compelling social media experience that combines the familiarity of Instagram with the openness and interoperability associated with decentralized platforms. This initiative could have far-reaching implications for the future of social media and the dynamics between centralized and decentralized models of online interaction.

A preview of the “text-based conversation” app says Threads will be a place “where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow”.

“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,” the promotional text says.

With this Meta will join a pool of growing platforms, including BlueSky and Mastodon, competing to replace Twitter since Musk took over late last year and the site became more difficult for its estimated 250 million users to access.

How to use Instagram’s Treads App?

Threads function as a standalone mobile application that requires installation on your device. Upon installation, the app automatically establishes a connection with your logged-in Instagram account. It leverages your existing Instagram friends list for communication purposes. In the event that you haven’t utilized this list, Threads suggests users with whom you frequently interact on Instagram. Importantly, the list you create within the Threads app is also integrated into your Instagram close friends list.

It is important to note that Threads operates differently from Instagram Direct or Messenger. It is not a platform for general chatting or communication with any user. Instead, it is designed specifically for engaging with a selected group of Instagram friends. Nonetheless, Threads offers the flexibility to create subgroups within your selected friend list, allowing for further customization and organization.

Other features of the Threads app

Threads is tightly integrated with your phone’s camera, allowing for quick and seamless sharing of videos and photos. The app facilitates the swift exchange of multimedia content among selected friends. Additionally, you can share automatic status updates, stories, and messages exclusively with your chosen friends. Notably, conversations initiated through Threads are automatically saved within Instagram Direct, ensuring continuity across platforms.

One of the key objectives behind the development of Threads was to provide users with a dedicated and intimate space to stay connected with their close friends throughout the day. This app serves as a private enclave where users can foster continuous and meaningful communication with their inner circle. Importantly, it is not necessary for all users to have Threads installed in order to engage in communication. As long as you have Threads, you can seamlessly interact with your friends who solely use Instagram, ensuring that you maintain your connection regardless of the platform they choose.

Why Meta’s Threads can be a real threat to Twitter?

Following Elon Musk’s involvement with Twitter, the app market has seen a surge of new Twitter alternatives emerging. Twitter itself encountered rate limit errors over the weekend, leading some users to explore other platforms. However, this migration turned out to be temporary, as users eventually returned to the well-established Twitter platform. Nevertheless, Threads distinguishes itself from other Twitter competitors by offering a unique advantage. Through its integration with Instagram, Threads enables users to seamlessly import their Instagram followers and following lists.

This integration is particularly beneficial as it eliminates the need for users to rebuild their contact networks from scratch. By leveraging their existing Instagram circles, users can leverage Threads with a pre-established user base, providing a ready-made network of connections. This integration offers convenience and ease of use, allowing users to maintain their relationships and engage with their established community without the need for extensive rebuilding efforts.

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