Meta’s New Text-Based App Takes on Twitter

Meta, the parent company of Instagram, has launched its anticipated app, Threads, to compete with Twitter. Threads allows Instagram users to post short

Meta, the parent company of Instagram, has launched its anticipated app, Threads, to compete with Twitter. Threads allows Instagram users to post short updates, including text, links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length. Users can authenticate with their existing Instagram credentials to access the app, which is currently available on iOS and Android in 100 countries, excluding the EU due to data privacy concerns.

While Threads shares similarities with Twitter rival Bluesky, which leverages its own decentralized protocol, Threads plans to support ActivityPub, the same social networking protocol used by Mastodon and other federated apps. This integration will expand the app’s reach and tap into Mastodon’s active user base of 1.7 million. However, the exact timeline for implementing ActivityPub support in Threads remains unknown.

Meta’s decision to adopt ActivityPub puts Threads in competition with other Mastodon clients, including indie apps like Ivory and Mammoth. Notably, companies like Flipboard, Medium, and Automattic have invested in the Mastodon ecosystem, indicating a shift away from Twitter. Concerns have been raised about Meta’s entry into the decentralized social web, as it could potentially dominate the market, similar to how Google gained control of web-based email services.

The success of Threads remains to be seen, but it presents Meta with an opportune time to enter the microblogging space. It’s worth noting that Meta has a history of discontinuing standalone apps. However, Threads benefits from Instagram’s integration, allowing users to easily sign up and carry over their account details, including block lists. Threads will operate under the same Community Guidelines as Instagram, providing users with a familiar framework for content moderation and audience control.

In addition to Threads, Instagram has been exploring ways to connect users beyond photo and video sharing. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has utilized features like “broadcast channels” to directly engage with followers. The app’s launch comes after thorough code analysis by developers and reverse engineers, revealing its character limit and early adopter focus on high-profile influencers and celebrities.

Privacy concerns have arisen regarding Threads, as the app collects various user data, similar to other major social platforms. However, users now have more agency in selecting platforms with better privacy practices. Despite these concerns, Threads has an advantage as it leverages users’ existing Instagram networks.

Due to ongoing privacy challenges across Meta’s app family, Threads is not currently available in the EU. Legal uncertainties surrounding data use under the Digital Markets Act have prompted the delay. Meta has faced consequences for data practices in the EU, as it was fined approximately $1.3 billion for exporting user data to the US without proper authorization.

While EU users have one less Twitter alternative, Threads provides early access users with the choice of expanding their attention within Meta’s app ecosystem.

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