Twitter killer: Meta launches new Threads platform, but how does it compare?

Mark Zuckerberg rolls out rival to Elon Musk's Twitter in a social media war that's even more intriguing than their highly-touted 'battle of the billionaires' cage fight.
Sejal Sharma
Meta's Threads (Left), Twitter (Right).
Meta's Threads (Left), Twitter (Right).

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Meta’s highly-anticipated, "text-based conversation" app, Threads is live and amassed 10 million users within the first seven hours of its launch. 

Instagram's rival app to Twitter, is now available on Apple and Google's Play in 100 countries - except for the European Union where regulatory concerns have delayed its launch. Despite this, it has already leapfrogged Twitter alternatives BlueSky and Mastodon in the number of active users.

“Instagram is where billions of people around the world connect over photos and videos. Our vision with Threads is to take what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas,” wrote Meta in a blog post.

Netflix, Rolling Stone, HBO, etc. were one of the first ones to sign up on the app. Among celebrities, Shakira, Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, and Dalai Lama were quick to jump on the Threads bandwagon.

Twitter killer: Meta launches new Threads platform, but how does it compare?
The look and feel of the Sign in page

How is Threads different from Twitter?

Meta said: “Threads offers a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations,” sounds familiar though, doesn’t it?

The owner of rival Twitter, Elon Musk has a similar stand to turn the bird app into a Digital Town Square where different opinions are welcome and can be debated. 

Let’s get down to the basics.

While Twitter has a 280-character limit, and 10,000 character limit for Twitter Blue users, Threads’ posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to five minutes in length. Whereas on Twitter, a user can upload a video up to two hours in length with an 8GB file size.

After having a go at the app, Interesting Engineering noticed that there are a lot of bugs that need to be fixed. One among them, for example, a user received a ‘like’ on their Instagram post but the notification for it was sent to Threads.

How do you follow people?

Threads allows users to connect and follow people they are already following on Instagram. To create a profile on Threads, users can log in straight away using their current Instagram login credentials - giving the app access to more than 1 billion Instagram users at the press of a button.

The app gives the option to populate existing account details like display picture, name, username, and followers on Threads.

Twitter killer: Meta launches new Threads platform, but how does it compare?
You can automatically follow the people you follow on Instagram

While Twitter requires people using the service to be 13 years of age or older, Threads allows people of all ages with the stipulation that users under 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will on default have a private profile when they join the app.

Just like on Twitter, Threads allows its users to unfollow, block, restrict, or report a profile by tapping the three-dot menu in the corner. Any accounts that have been blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads as well.

Unlike Twitter, Threads users cannot send direct messages on the app currently.


If you’re tired of seeing ads on Twitter and Instagram after every two minutes, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Threads users will not see any ads at least for a year since Meta has decided not to monetize the app for the time being.

Privacy concerns

A few days before the launch of the app, Meta put Threads on the App Store for preorder, after which there were some privacy concerns raised by users. It was noticed that the app collects a lot of sensitive user data related to health, finances, purchases, contacts, usage data, browsing history, reported TechCrunch - something that hasn't gone unnoticed by Twitter and Bluesky co-founder Jack Dorsey:

The company is also facing issues in the EU. The European Court of Justice upheld the right for EU watchdogs to investigate privacy breaches in a ruling that said user consent was needed before using their data to target them with adverts, reported The Guardian. This comes two months after Meta was fined $1.3 billion for exporting user data to the US for processing.

Look and feel

Although Threads looks like a Gen Z cousin of Twitter, some of the iconic wordings used by Twitter have been replaced. For example, retweets are called “reposts” and tweets are called "threads".

Twitter killer: Meta launches new Threads platform, but how does it compare?
Threads feed


While it is not yet connected, Meta eventually plans to link Threads with Activity Pub, the decentralized platform used to run services like Mastodon even allowing them to interact with users on other platforms that use this backbone. When required, they will simply be able to port their social media account to another platform using Activity Pub, The Verge reported.

Perfect timing

With everything going on at Twitter since Musk's takeover, even the most loyal of Twitter users have been looking for an alternate platform to have decent conversations that were possible when the social media platform started off.

The launch comes at a time when Twitter seems to be imploding, long after former CEO and owner Elon Musk fired a significant number of staff and pulled the plugs on servers in a bid to reduce costs. In a recent move, Musk imposed limits on viewable tweets with the current CEO, Linda Yaccarino, a mute spectator to the users' woes.

This isn’t the first time that Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has taken ideas from rival social platforms.

Having bought Instagram for over US$1bn in 2012, and then messaging app WhatsApp for US$19bn in 2019, it then launched Instagram Reels in 2020 in response to the growing popularity of TikTok.

But Meta’s foray into churning out competitor rivals hasn’t reaped the results it hoped. Over the years, Meta has shut down Hello, Moves, Paper, Poke, Camera, Home, Slingshot, Groups, Moments, and others.

It even launched a Snapchat rival, also called Threads, back in 2019, but it failed and was consequently pulled back by the company.

It will be very hard for users to overlook that Threads is indeed a Meta app, even though it is being branded as an Instagram offering.

Let battle commence!

If a Threads wave were to sweep over the one billion Instagram users and make them create accounts on the platform, the only people who would be saved would be those residing in the EU where Meta has held back on the launch.

According to TechCrunch's report, there is no current regulatory hurdle for Meta to launch Threads there, but the company is acting out of caution after recent rulings against its operational practices, which have led to big fines for the company in the region.

Meta relies heavily on extensive user data that it gathers to channel its ads and EU's privacy laws put a major dent in using this information without explicit user permission.

While we wait for Meta's next moves in the EU, it has definitely forced Twitter into damage control where the latter lifted restrictions on content views it had imposed over the weekend.

The social media war for dominance in text-based platforms is now wide open and we will watch it closely to see if Musk or Zuck is the real genius.


If you are on Threads already, you can follow Interesting Engineering 

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