Meta's new social media app, Threads, has launched! While over 70 million users have already signed up, and brands have joined the party, only time will tell if the popularity of Threads will stick. In the meantime, here are some key things to know:
- According to Meta, the app was built by the Instagram team for sharing text updates and joining public conversations.
- There is currently no real desktop functionality. You log into the app using your Instagram account.
- Posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length.
- Your feed includes Thread posts posted by people you follow, and recommended content, and is much less curatable than your Twitter feed.
- Like on Instagram, you can add hidden words to filter out replies to your post that contain specific words.
- You can unfollow, block, restrict or report a profile by tapping the three-dot menu, and any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads.
- You can share a Threads post to your Instagram story, or share your post as a link on other platforms.
- You can also control who can mention you or reply to you within Threads.
- There is currently no in-app messaging (but you can tag other users).
- And, importantly, you can't delete your Threads account without also deleting your Instagram account, but you can deactivate your account to hide your Threads profile and posts from public view.
AdAge reports that, although Threads does not yet have ad buy opportunities, all new Meta products eventually apply monetization.
Perhaps most interestingly, before Threads launched, Meta emphasized that the app would use a decentralized protocol called ActivityPub, making it part of the "fediverse." Before you panic about having to learn about yet another futuristic "verse," the "fediverse" (a portmanteau of “federation” and “universe") essentially means a social network of different servers operated by third parties that are connected and can communicate with each other. Each server on the fediverse operates on its own, but can talk to other servers on the fediverse that run on the same protocol. The idea that Meta, the quintessential centralized Web2 company, would offer a decentralized app was exciting to many, particularly given longstanding concern over Facebook's hegemony in the digital market. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, explained it well: "If you’re wondering why this matters, here’s a reason: you may one day end up leaving Threads, or, hopefully not, end up de-platformed. If that ever happens, you should be able to take your audience with you to another server. Being open can enable that.”
However, at launch, Threads is, in fact, not decentralized nor part of the fediverse. Mosseri explained that while Meta is committed to building support for ActivityPub into the app, they "weren’t able to finish it for launch given a number of complications that come along with a decentralized network." However, he promised "it’s coming."
The app launched in more than 100 countries, but is notably not available in the EU, which some speculate may be because of the complex web of applicable EU regulations.
We look forward to following the Threads trajectory and will keep you updated!