On Wednesday evening, Meta released their “friendly” alternative to Twitter called Threads. Within seven hours of its launch, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg claimed that 10 million people have signed up.
The Instagram-linked competitor (you currently need an Instagram account to sign up for Threads) currently looks more or less just like Twitter. Users can post text-based messages up to 500 characters, as well as videos or photos, and respond to or repost other posts. However, unlike Twitter, direct messaging is currently unavailable, and hashtags are nowhere to be found. Also, if you decide Threads isn’t for you, the only way to delete your account is by axing your entire Instagram account.
The app is apparently available in over 100 countries on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Notably not included is the EU, which recently passed a law to limit how big tech companies can share data. Even in the countries where it is allowed, the app has numerous questionable security policy items—including how the app can collect sensitive personal data, data about your location, and personal health and body data. (At the time of writing, a PopSci staff member was able to create an account from an EU residence.)
Twitter’s user experience has took a downturn since Elon Musk took the helm. Users recently reported inability to read tweets or even access the social media platform. Last Friday, new “temporary limits” put a cap on how many tweets users could see per day, with a boost for premium Twitter Blue users. The website additionally instituted account-only access to the previously free-to-access website, leading to a multitude of problems. Then on Wednesday, Twitter quietly lifted the account-only ban.
There are a number of Twitter alternatives that predate Threads, however none of which have caught fire in the same manner as Meta’s attempt. Mastodon has been slow to attract much of a crowd, while former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s alternative Bluesky remains in a closed beta testing phase.