(AP) – Meta has unveiled an app called Threads to rival Twitter, targeting users looking for an alternative to the social media platform owned — and frequently changed — by Elon Musk.
Threads is billed as a text-based version of Meta’s photo-sharing app Instagram that the company says provides “a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.”
It went live late Wednesday in Apple and Google Android app stores, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying 10 million people had signed up in the first seven hours. There were some early glitches, including Zuckerberg’s posts — or Threads as they’re dubbed — not loading in several places including the United Kingdom, India and Lebanon. But his replies to other users did appear.
Threads launched in more than 100 countries — including the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan — and has already drawn celebrity users like chef Gordon Ramsay, pop star Shakira and actor Jack Black as well as accounts from Airbnb, Guinness World Records, Netflix, Vogue magazine and other media outlets.
The Twitter-like microblogging experience suggests that Meta Platforms has been gearing up to directly challenge the platform after Musk’s tumultuous ownership has resulted in a series of unpopular changes that have turned off users and advertisers.
Zuckerberg said in some early replies on Threads that he’s focused on making the app “a friendly place,” which will “ultimately be the key to its success.”
“That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently,” he wrote.
On Threads, there are buttons to like, repost, reply to or quote a thread, and users see the number of likes and replies that a post has received.
Posts are limited to 500 characters, which is more than Twitter’s 280-character threshold, and can include links, photos and videos up to five minutes long.
Despite that, Meta said its “vision is that Threads will be a new app more focused on text and dialogue, modeled after what Instagram has done for photo and video.”
Instagram users will be able to log in with their existing usernames and follow the same accounts on the new app. New users will have to set up an Instagram account.
Meta emphasized measures to keep users safe, including enforcing Instagram’s community guidelines and providing tools to control who can mention or reply to users.
Meta’s new offering, however, has raised data privacy concerns.
Threads could collect a wide range of personal information, including health, financial, contacts, browsing and search history, location data, purchases and “sensitive info,” according to its data privacy disclosure on the App Store.
Amid the Threads launch, Musk responded to a tweet showing a screenshot of him saying he deleted Instagram in 2018 because it was “weak sauce.”