clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Instagram to launch Twitter competitor this week, with perfect timing

As Twitter users begin another exodus, Mark Zuckerberg waits with open arms

Screenshots of a Twitter-like app from the iOS app store, saying “keep your username”, “find your followers”, “connect over conversation” and “share your point of view” Image: Instagram
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Instagram will launch a new “text-based conversation app” called Threads on Thursday, July 6 — just as Twitter users once more contemplate a mass exodus in the wake of controversial changes instigated by the social network’s owner, Elon Musk.

The new app from Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, appeared on the iOS App Store on Tuesday after an early listing was spotted on the Google Play store earlier in the weekend, according to The Verge. A countdown to 10 a.m. EDT on July 6 has also appeared on the website, with a link to the App Store listing.

Threads appears to have a similar interface and functionality to Twitter and other social media platforms like Bluesky and Mastodon. Screenshots on the App Store listing show the ability to like, reply, and repost, follow users, and control who can reply to a post. Login seems to be handled through Instagram accounts, with users keeping the same username.

“Say more with Threads — Instagram’s text-based conversation app,” reads the app description. “Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow. Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.”

Meta’s Twitter competitor has magically appeared just as controversial rule changes at Twitter have once again alienated a large swathe of users. In the past few days, Twitter has required login to view posts, rate-limited how many posts users who don’t subscribe to its Twitter Blue service can view per day, and said it will make the TweetDeck dashboard interface exclusive to Twitter Blue.

The result has been another surge in sign-ups to Twitter rivals Mastodon and Bluesky; Bluesky, which is in beta, had to temporarily pause new user registration to cope with demand. Threads could be an even bigger beneficiary of the turmoil at Twitter, coming as it does from the world’s biggest social media company, and piggybacking on Instagram’s gigantic user base. Most users won’t even need to create a new account to use it.

The downside, as ever with Meta platforms, is privacy. As noted on the App Store page (and called out by former Twitter boss Jack Dorsey and current boss Musk), the Threads app may collect data on your health, finances, and other sensitive information, and link these to your identity. Instagram does this, but Twitter doesn’t go so far, while Bluesky and Mastodon collect little or no data via their apps. But ease of use and sign-up may still be the deciding factor for many Twitter refugees.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon