Instagram’s Threads app, a text-based social media platform poised to become Twitter’s latest competitor, is now available to users in more than 100 countries.
The app, which was released Wednesday evening, a day ahead of its scheduled debut, enables users to sign up straight from their Instagram accounts. That means that once it is launched worldwide, more than 2 billion monthly active users may import their accounts into Threads.
Within just seven hours of its launch, Threads had attracted at least 10 million sign ups, including a growing number of celebrities, a spokesperson said. Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Gordon Ramsay, Tom Brady and Coldplay were among those to sign up for the app early on, the spokesperson said.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on the new platform that he hoped to see the Threads community grow to over one billion members. He also took to Twitter for what appeared to be his first post in over a decade, sharing a popular Spider-Man meme in what appeared to be a nod to Threads’ similarities with Twitter.
The app opens up to a scrollable feed of short-form text limited to 500 characters a post, with the ability to add individual or carousel photos and videos. Posts will include content from accounts users follow, as well as from creators suggested by the platform's recommendation algorithm. Viewers can engage by liking, commenting, reposting — including quoting a post — and sharing to their Instagram story or feed.
While most features mimic those of Twitter, its user interface design resembles Instagram’s, with the same heart, comment and share buttons and similarly placed tabs.
Once logged in, new users who have Instagram accounts are told their account must retain the same usernames, but are able to a different bio and link to their profiles. Verified Instagram users will take their check marks to Threads, as well. Users can then choose to follow in bulk all accounts they already follow on Instagram, which includes pre-following anyone who has not yet joined Threads.
In his first thread, Zuckerberg wrote "Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads" with a fire emoji. It's dated from two days ago, when some big names appeared to have early access.
Others on the app as of Wednesday's launch included Jennifer Lopez and Tom Brady, as well as brands like HBO and publishers like Teen Vogue.
Accounts that users have already blocked on Instagram will also be automatically blocked on Threads. Those who wish to limit interactions can choose whether to allow replies from everyone, accounts they follow or mentions — users whom they directly tagged in a thread — only. They can also choose to restrict mentions of themselves to just accounts they follow or to disallow them entirely.
Instagram’s community guidelines will be enforced on Threads, and users can report one another for violations. As on Twitter, users can choose to hide specific words or phrases from their feeds.
Before launch, Meta had reportedly granted selected creators early access to test its features and encourage people to join.
For now, the app is not available in the European Union.
Meta is also working on making Threads compatible with ActivityPub, a decentralized social networking protocol that is part of a new and rising movement, sometimes called the Fediverse, which allows information to flow between social media platforms and other services.
“This would make Threads interoperable with other apps that also support the ActivityPub protocol, such as Mastodon and WordPress — allowing new types of connections that are simply not possible on most social apps today,” the company said in its blog post. “Other platforms including Tumblr have shared plans to support the ActivityPub protocol in the future. “
If the protocol is successfully implemented, those using Threads would be able to follow and be followed by users from other platforms. A user’s feed on Threads might then feature posts and accounts from Mastodon that the user can interact with without switching apps.
Other features in the works include direct messaging, trending topics and an “improved” search function.
“Threads is for public conversations,” Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said in a video announcement. “We’re hoping to bring some of what we’ve built for photos and videos on Instagram to Threads with text.”