Meta launches Threads, its answer to Twitter

Facebook behemoth Meta has officially launched Threads, its text-based Twitter rival, but its release in Europe has been delayed over regulatory concerns.

Facebook behemoth Meta has officially launched Threads, its text-based Twitter rival, but its release in Europe has been delayed over regulatory concerns.

Threads is the biggest challenger yet to Elon Musk-owned Twitter, which has seen a series of potential competitors emerge but not yet replace one of the social media's most iconic companies, despite its epic struggles.

The app went live on Apple and Android app stores at 2300 GMT on Wednesday, with accounts already active for celebrities such as Shakira and Jack Black, as well as media outlets including The Hollywood Reporter, Vice and Netflix.

"Let's do this. Welcome to Threads," wrote Meta chief executive and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in his first post on the new platform.

Five million users have signed up to Threads in first four hours of the app's launch, Zuckerberg said hours later,

"Just passed 5 million sign ups in the first four hours..." he said on his official Threads account.

The app was introduced as a clear spin-off of Instagram, offering it a built-in audience of more than two billion users and thus sparing it the challenge of starting from scratch.

Zuckerberg is widely understood to be taking advantage of Musk's chaotic ownership of Twitter to push out the new product, which the company hopes will become the go-to communication channel for celebrities, companies and politicians.

"It's as simple as that: if an Instagram user with a large number of followers such as Kardashian or a Bieber or a Messi begins posting on Threads regularly, a new platform could quickly thrive," strategic financial analyst Brian Wieser said on Substack.

Analyst Jasmine Engberg from Insider Intelligence said Threads would only need one out of four Instagram monthly users "to make it as big as Twitter".

"Twitter users are desperate for an alternative, and Musk has given Zuckerberg an opening," she added.

Twitter's unstable run

Musk and Zuckerberg are known to be bitter rivals – and have even offered to meet each other in a fighting cage to wrestle it out.

This came after a Meta executive reportedly told employees that Threads would be like Twitter, but "sanely run."

Under Musk, Twitter has seen content moderation reduced to a minimum, with glitches and rash decisions tarnishing the site's reputation and scaring away celebrities and major advertisers.

The Tesla tycoon said last week that he was limiting access to Twitter in what he called a temporary measure to ward off AI companies from "scraping" the site to train their technology.

Musk then angered Twitter's most devoted aficionados by declaring that access to its TweetDeck product — which allows users to view a fast flow of tweets at once — would be for paying customers only.

Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last October, but its value has since plummeted as it faced an exodus of advertisers amid deep staffing cuts and content moderation controversies.

'Fediverse' coming soon

Threads owner Meta has its legion of critics too, especially in Europe, and despite Instagram's massive user base, they could slow the site's development.

The company formerly known as Facebook is criticised mainly for its handling of personal data – its quintessential bloodline for targeted ads that help it rake in billions of dollars in profits every quarter.

According to a source close to the matter, regulatory concerns will delay the launch of Threads in the European Union, where Meta will be subject to a new law called the Digital Markets Act [DMA], which sets strict rules for the world's biggest internet companies.

One rule restricts platforms from transferring personal data between products, as would potentially be the case between Threads and Instagram.

Meta was caught out for doing just that after it bought the messaging app WhatsApp, and European regulators will be on high alert to ensure that the company doesn't do so with Threads.

Another original idea for Threads, making it interoperable with other Twitter rivals such as Mastodon, is also on hold for now, but not abandoned.

"Soon, you'll be able to follow and interact with people on other fediverse platforms," the app told users.

The so-called fediverse would see different platforms of all kinds and sizes enabled to communicate with one another.

Analysts said its success is far from guaranteed, citing Meta's track record of starting standalone apps that were later shut down.

Also in question is whether it's the right move for Meta, which has announced tens of thousands of layoffs over the past year amid a tech industry slowdown.


Source: TRT