Thursday, April 18, 2024

Meta’s Threads draws 30 million users as Zuckerberg challenges Twitter

Tech Desk :

Meta Platforms (META.O) on Wednesday launched a direct challenge to Twitter with Threads, garnering millions of users in hours as it sought to take advantage of its rival’s much-weakened state after a series of chaotic decisions from owner Elon Musk.

Positioned as a friendly competitor to Twitter, Threads aims to appeal to users who are dissatisfied with recent changes to the former since its acquisition by Elon Musk.

When asked on Threads if the app could surpass Twitter in popularity, Zuckerberg replied that while it may take time, he is thinking of a public conversation app that will have over a billion users. He believes Twitter had the opportunity to achieve this but fell short, and hopes Threads will succeed where Twitter failed.

Features look similar to Twitter

Threads allows users to post up to 500 characters and incorporates several features similar to Twitter. Zuckerberg stressed the importance of maintaining a friendly environment as the key to the app’s success.

In contrast, Musk expressed a preference for enduring attacks from strangers on Twitter over the superficial happiness found on Instagram.

But critics have raised concerns about the potential data collection activities of Threads, including personal health, financial, and browsing information tied to user identities.

The Apple App Store has reported that the app collects this data in order to provide users with a more personalised experience. However, critics argue that this data could be used for other purposes, such as targeted advertising or identity theft.

Threads has defended its data collection practices, stating that it only collects data that is necessary to provide users with the features and services they expect. However, the company has not provided any specific information about how it uses this data.

Instagram integration

Despite being a standalone app, Threads requires users to log in using their Instagram accounts, with the option to customise their profile specifically for Threads while retaining their Instagram username.

Users can choose to follow the same accounts they do on Instagram, offering a seamless transition between the two platforms. In terms of functionality, Threads allows users to share posts to Instagram and vice versa, supporting links, photos, and videos up to five minutes long.

Users can customise their feeds by following people they are interested in and have control over mentions, filtering out specific word replies, blocking, restricting, and reporting other profiles.

Accounts that are blocked on Instagram are automatically blocked on Threads as well.

Threads has a significant advantage over competing alternatives, such as Bluesky and Mastodon, due to its integration with Instagram and its existing user base of hundreds of millions.

But Threads has been introduced at a time when Meta faces criticism for its business practices, including prioritising profits over safety, as highlighted by whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Meta has also faced scrutiny for allowing third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, to access Facebook users’ personal data.

Threads opts out of EU for now

Threads is now available for download in over 100 countries, excluding the European Union due to regulatory uncertainties.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, refers to Threads as an initial version, with plans to introduce additional features, including the ability to interact with users on other social media platforms like Mastodon.

As for the EU, regulatory uncertainties surrounding the Digital Markets Act have delayed the availability of Threads in the region.

Meta is exploring options to launch the app in the EU, but compliance with data-sharing regulations between Threads and Instagram remains a key concern.

While Threads draws inspiration from Instagram, it has been widely compared to Twitter, with some investors dubbing it a potential “Twitter Killer”.

Elon Musk has limited the daily visibility of tweets on his platform, aimed at encouraging users to explore the benefits of subscribing to Twitter Blue, the platform’s subscription service.

Twitter has also announced that its popular user dashboard, TweetDeck, will become a paid service in the near future.

The future of Meta’s Threads and the potential resurgence of Twitter remains uncertain. Time will reveal the outcome and determine the true course of events.

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