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Instagram's new Twitter clone Threads has arrived. It's been teased for a while and arrives at a difficult time for Twitter — and an opportune moment for Threads to capitalize on the chaos and divisiveness of Twitter CEO Elon Musk's leadership.
While initially a rather direct copy of Twitter and with promised future integration with other services like Mastodon, Threads has a massive advantage: they're starting with Instagram's enormous user base instead of from zero.
Update 23 August 2023: Added new information about the web version of Threads and the Following Feed.
What is Threads?
Threads is a "text-based conversation platform" from Instagram and Meta, and a nearly direct clone of Twitter. It arrives at a critical juncture for Twitter, which has become increasingly unstable under the chaotic leadership of Elon Musk. Threads is leveraging the popular Instagram platform to build its user base, and offers a fairly basic copy of Twitter's primary functionality.
How is Threads different than Twitter?
Well, Threads has a more Instagram-like visual style to it. Obviously it's more text-focused than the images-and-videos-heavy Instagram, but it definitely looks like it's an Instagram app.
But other than that, using Threads is a lot like using Twitter. Posts are lined up in a feed you can scroll through, you have the option to reply, quote, like, or share (with deeper integration into Instagram). Posts are primarily text-based, though you can add images and video. It's Twitter, but by Instagram.
Where can I get the Threads app?
Threads is not supported on iPad, Android tablets, Windows, or Mac. But there is a web version of Threads that anybody can use.
How can I join Threads?
After downloading the app you'll be prompted to log in with your Instagram account, which will import your username, bio data, and link — you can edit the bio and link, but your username will remain fixed to your Instagram account.
Can I join Threads without an Instagram account?
As of right now, an Instagram account is required to join Threads. You cannot create an account on Threads without one, nor can you create an Instagram account via Threads. This may change in the future as Meta moves to expand access to Threads, though with more than 500 million active users Instagram provides a strong base from which to build Threads' user count.
Can I have a different username on Threads than Instagram?
Usernames on Threads are directly linked to your Instagram account and cannot be changed, even when first setting up an account on Threads.
What is the character limit for posts on Threads?
Threads posts are limited to 500 characters, with a running character count in the top right corner when you're composing your post. At launch Threads does not allow users to create a thread of multiple posts at once. Which kind of seems like an oversight.
How many pictures and videos can I add to a Threads post?
You can add up to ten images and videos to any new post or reply on Threads. Videos can be up to five minutes long.
How do I follow other accounts on threads?
When creating a Threads account you'll be prompted with a list of your current Instagram follows. As Threads is still in its early days, many of the other Instagram users you're prompted to follow won't have registered their Threads account yet — they're more of a preemptive follow for if/when they opt in to Threads.
Once you're into Threads, tapping onto any username will open that profile and give you a big "Follow" button you can tap to add them to your feed.
How can I set my Threads account to private?
When you set up your Threads account you're given the option to set your account to private, where only users you have approved will be able to see and interact with your posts.
Can I limit who can reply to specific Threads posts?
While you can limit your entire Threads account to private so only approved users can see it, you can also limit the reply availability of any individual post. The default option is to allow anyone on Threads to reply, with additional options for other users that you follow, or no replies at all. You can set this when creating a new post, or change this setting per post after the fact.
Does Threads support direct messages to individual users?
At launch there is no support for direct or private messaging or chat on Threads. Seeing as both Instagram and Twitter both offer DMs, it seems likely that Threads eventually will as well. In the meantime, you can @mention a user to get their attention with a public post.
Can I use Threads in a web browser?
While initially Threads was limited to just mobile apps for Android and iOS, in late August 2023 a web-accessible version of Threads — threads.net was launched with full functionality to match the apps.
Threads also offer embeds so individual posts can be shared on other platforms and websites, and like Twitter it includes a preceding post if the selected one is a reply. Threads also utilizes the same website metadata as Facebook to display a preview card for URLs added to a post's content.
Is verification available on Threads?
There is currently no option to "verify" on Threads, nor are there any paid subscription options. Yet.. Meta already offers a paid "verification" system for Facebook and Instagram and has carried it over onto Threads.
Can I limit my Threads feed to just the people I follow? Or sort it chronologically?
The default Threads view is the "For you" feed, which offers an algorithmically ordered look at the posts from accounts you follow plus other users it thinks you may find interesting.
If you're not into that, there is a "Following" feed, which is limited to only the accounts you follow and sorts them reverse chronologically (newest at the top). The Following feed is hidden, though. When you're scrolled to the top of the main feed, you can tap on the Threads logo at the top center or the home button in the bottom right to bring down the tabs to switch feed views. This will reset on you if you've been away from the Threads app for long enough to require a reload.
Can I edit posts on Threads?
Threads does not support editing of posts. Meta says they are planning to add editing support, but has not provided a timeline or let on if it'll be part of any sort of paid tier.
Does Threads support multiple accounts?
Threads does not yet support staying logged in with multiple accounts, but if you're logged into multiple accounts on Instagram it's relatively easy on Threads to log out of one and log in to another.
Are there ads on Threads?
In this early state, there are no ads on Threads. It is certain that Threads will have ads in the future, but it doesn't right now. Facebook and Instagram aren't afraid of ads, so it's only a matter of time — expanding their existing relationship with advertisers won't be difficult.
How can I delete my Threads account?
So you tried out Threads and realized it's not for you? If you were hoping to delete your Threads account, we've got bad news: the only way is to also nuke your Instagram account. Odds are you probably don't want to do that, so you're stuck with having a Threads account as well. Hopefully this will change in the future.
Right now the next best option is to set your account to private, remove all of your followers, and then delete the Threads app from your phone. Threads doesn't (yet) send emails for missed activity or anything like that, so you can just lock down your account and abandon it.
What's the deal with Threads and the Fediverse?
While not available at launch, Meta has made clear that they intend to hook up Threads to the "Fediverse" via the ActivityPub protocol, which contains open source Twitter clone systems like Mastodon. This "Federation" will open up Threads to a broader ecosystem of similar platforms, with that interoperability going both ways.
Threads joining the Fediverse is an interesting move, as it means one won't need a Threads (and Instagram) account to view content on Threads. It's also stirred some controversy in Fediverse circles, as it has been an open source project and the addition of a massive player like Meta could overpower the work of the open source community. The Fediverse is composed of numerous independent servers with their own moderation rules and optional connections between the servers, and some are preemptively voicing their intent to block federation with Thread's server — the kind of division that could end up breaking the Fediverse instead.
While the features that Threads offers at launch are close to the rest of the Fediverse offers, Meta's ambitions here are certainly larger. Working in advertising, verification, and other features may pose compatibility issues. Threads already supports features that aren't part of Mastodon, for example, like quoting posts. Likely future features like DMs or chat are also not available via ActivityPub, so Meta will likely have to become a significant contributor to those open source efforts to move Threads in the direction they so desire. Meta is promising in "future versions" that Threads will work with the Fediverse, but there's no concrete timeline to that move.
CrackBerry is now on Threads as @CrackBerry_Official — give us a follow if you like the kind of yarn we're spinning.