If you’re breathing and online, you’ve heard about Threads, the new kinder, gentler, less Musk-y Twitter threat everyone’s talking about…but will Threads replace Twitter and become the social media platform we’ve all been dreaming of? I’ve spent the last few days exploring it and as per usual, I have many thoughts. Here’s what to know about Meta’s Threads:
It’s been less than a week since the team behind Instagram pushed the ad, troll, and bot-free new social media space out to the world, and already it’s obliterated every previous app launch record to date. By a lot.
“I think this is going to be probably the best product launch of 2023,” said author and NYU Professor Scott Galloway on the Pivot Podcast he co-hosts with famed tech journalist Kara Swisher on Friday.
For context, it took TikTok nine months to hit the 100 million mark and Instagram a full two and a half years to reach that milestone.
“100 million people signed up for Threads in five days. I’m not sure I can wrap my mind around that fact,” wrote Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri on his Threads account. “It’s insane; I can’t make sense of it,” he said.
But Thread’s meteoric launch is just one of several early headlines (Threadlines?) here. Let’s hit the biggest questions so far, security concerns and, yes, “threadiquette,” before that new car smell starts to wear off.
Is Threads A Twitter Clone?
Of course, everyone over at Meta keeps saying Threads is NOT a Twitter clone but rather “an open and friendly public space for conversation,” according to a Mark Zuckerberg Threads post. “We hope to take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas, and discussing what’s on your mind,” he wrote. The idea here is a fresh take on the online public town square space where people can have real-time conversations with one another.
Whatever. It’s the best new Twitter-ish site I’ve seen so far.
“It’s an “upside down Instagram,” my friend, the celebrated TikTok influencer and social media teacher Helen Polise tells me. “It leads with the caption and then photo/video/links … It’s like peeking in on the dm’s of some folks chatting and bantering. I kind of love the voyeuristic vibe of it,” she says.
Others are already calling Threads the “watercooler” of the internet. But let’s be clear. It hasn’t even been alive for a full week yet.
“Right now, it’s just very friendly in there,” Mosseri said on the New York Times “Hard Fork” podcast last week. “Now, we’ll see what it looks like when the gates blow open, and anyone and everyone can join. But the vibes are good in there right now,” he added.
Will Threads Replace Twitter?
That’s the $44 billion question, and for tens of thousands of people, it already has.
According to Insider, a private poll of 200 current Twitter employees showed that nearly 70% responded “yes” to the prompt “Threads, RIP Twitter?”
As Twitter continues its downward spiral amid crisis, chaos, and more “c” words like the one its billionaire owner, Elon Musk, tweeted Sunday—many of us are ready to move on to a platform acting like a grown-up.
Threads is free. It’s clean. It’s friendly. (So far.) It’s remarkably easy to sign up for and use. Meta — the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — created it. After all this time, you would hope the brains over there know a thing or two about what people want from social media these days.
Top of the priority list so far? Stop with all the Musk-madness; less toxic bear-poking and rage-filled cyber-spewing:
— “Hello to 100 million of the world’s nicest, gentlest, and positive people,” wrote Wall Street Journal personal tech columnist Joanna Stern.
— “If threads continues to make kindness cool again, it’ll be the most important social network in the world,” added entrepreneur Steven Bartlett.
— “Good vibes and gratitude for the mute/hide/block buttons,” commented self-help author Vex King.
I’m incredibly impressed with Mosseri and other core Threads team members’ thoughtful questions and replies to people on the app.
They’re equal parts serious, thoughtful, and playful. It feels like friends and colleagues talking to each other. Yep, like Twitter used to.
Let’s not forget that Instagram has some 2.35 billion “active monthly users.” Threads is a brand extension versus a totally new product, and the early joiners (like me) were easy to cherry-pick at launch. Porting our profiles, followers, and street cred over in one tap is as pain-free for the end user as it gets. (For now.)
What New Features Are Coming to Threads?
This morning, Mosseri posted that the Threads team is working to roll out the “obvious missing features, like a following feed, the edit button, and post search.” He also wrote, “The team is pumped to start improvements this week.”
My list of wants includes:
— Chronological timeline
— Ability to edit, even after I hit “post”
— Way to organize by topic/people
— Desktop app (see way to install to Windows desktop.)
— Ability to share Threads profile across socials, not just to specific people on Instagram
— Direct messages
What else can Threads Improve?
— A home feed for just for people you follow @mkbhd
— Absolutely needs full-text search @alex.stamos
— Ability to crop/edit attached photos in app @mike_isaac
— Tools that give me more control. I want to tell the algorithm what I want and then be able to tweak those preferences, not have it learn from what it thinks I want from what I do. @ezraklein
Mosseri also said they’re not going to touch “news,” but as several people have pointed out, they kind of have to, especially with an election on the horizon.
How they’ll keep content curation focusing on user safety and limiting harm remains to be seen.
Tips and Tricks for Using Threads
The clean slate and positive vibe are already winning the internet, but early adopters are posting many handy “pro” tips and tricks too.
- Follow @threadsapp.
— It’s the official Thread head and chock full of hidden gems from the apps’ creators and users alike.
- Turn off all the annoying notifications:
— Open Threads > Profile (person icon in the lower right corner) > Menu (two lines in the upper right corner) > Notifications. From here, you can customize what, if any, notifications you want.
- Hide offensive words, phrases, and accounts.
— It’s fairly easy to filter out trigger words, emojis, and topics you want to keep out of your Threads. Go to your Profile > Menu (two lines in the upper right corner) > Privacy > Tap on Hidden Words. This setting is “on” by default, but you can customize it too.
- Hide, Block, or Mute other accounts.
— Any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads. You can customize it even more too. Go to your Profile > Menu > Privacy > Tap on Other Privacy Settings > Go to Connections.
- Deactivate your threads account without deleting Instagram.
— According to Mosseri, “You can deactivate your Threads account, which hides your Threads profile and content, you can set your profile to private, and you can delete individual threads posts — all without deleting your Instagram account. Threads is powered by Instagram, so right now it’s just one account, but we’re looking into a way to delete your Threads account separately,” he posted.
How Long Can the Threads Honeymoon Last?
If it keeps us safe, engaged, and more in control over our online world than it has in the past, I’ll stick it out.
For me, it comes down to “clean” engagement without all the nasty security breaches, playground bullies, fringe fighting, and dishonest manipulation. Does that mean we might have to pay for our privacy and lack of ads? It might, and that’s okay.
Let me explain: Twitter’s where I used to go to see the cool kids thought bubbles. By cool kids, I mean the smartest, funniest, and most interesting takes on topics that matter the most to me.
But now, Twitter feels like an absolute rotten fish dumpster fire.
I crack it open and see message requests from scantily dressed “women” propositioning “me,” crypto-bots, and so much nasty name-calling. My feed is full of ads, reply guys, and trolls. I’m offended pretty much every time I look at it. Oh, and he capped how many Tweets we could read last week and continues to come across like an unhinged billionaire brat boy desperately in need of strict boundaries and a hug.
It makes Mark Zuckerberg look like a puckish Mr. Rogers right about now. (I know, that’s crazy, right?)
What’s on the horizon for Threads?
My biggest issue with Threads so far is how much time I’m spending on it. Like TikTok, Instagram, and the myriad of addictive apps that have come before it, our biggest challenge ahead could very likely be knowing when to put it away.
For Meta thought? Their biggest challenge will be how to keep people engaged.
When I posted about needing to go to sleep versus getting sucked into more Threads, my Gen Z friend Maya replied, “This was me the first days. Now the newness has worn off.”
That was five days after it launched. Five days people.