On Thursday 6th July Meta launched its supposed “rival” to Elon Musk’s Twitter in the form of Threads.
Despite being launched only very recently, Threads has been the centre of online discourse in the days and weeks leading up to launch, primarily asking the following question: will Threads become a genuine rival to Twitter, or just another copycat that’ll fade into obscurity within the month?
But what actually is Threads, besides Twitter’s apparent arch-nemesis? According to the App Store page, Meta describes the new app as “[a place] where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow.” So, it’s essentially Twitter with a new name and a different billionaire overlord. A crucial point is that Threads is a completely free service with no restrictions, providing a possible alternative to Twitter’s increasing number of paywalls and restrictions.
Threads is of course not the first new app to be brought out and labelled as the “new Twitter”. Apps such as Mastodon and Bluesky have been launched in recent times to varying degrees of success, with Bluesky claiming to have seen record traffic on their app after Elon Musk’s move to restrict the number tweets users see in a day. Even Donald Trump released his own controversial social network called Truth Social, but I wouldn’t touch that one with a ten-foot stick. While these channels are still up and running, they are nowhere near the size of Twitter to prove any form of threat to the big blue bird.
But there is something about Threads that feels different, like it actually has legs to stand on when coming up against the internet behemoth that is Twitter. Unlike the many other Twitter copies, Threads has the vast resources of the Meta company and Mark Zuckerberg behind it, and this is not the first time Zuckerberg has borrowed ideas from other platforms and made them successful in his own (reels and stories for example).
The new app will be integrated within the Instagram platform, so any new account can link to their Instagram account and will be able to easily link with their followers from Instagram on Threads. This feature will be great for businesses, if they have an Instagram account, as it means you won’t have to painstakingly rebuild your follower-base, you can just jump right in. The downside is for those who don’t have an Instagram account, you will need one to sign up to Threads.
The look and feel of the app is very similar – almost identical in fact – to Twitter, so it will feel familiar for new users. The basic Twitter features such as liking posts, retweeting and quoting posts, among others, are also on Threads, under different names of course (retweet=repost, tweet=thread, etc.). Any business who is active on Twitter shouldn’t feel put-off by having to learn and get used to a new interface, because by the look of it, you won’t have to.
So far so good, I would say. Threads seems like the answer on the surface. It has a familiar look and feel, integration with other Meta-run platforms for ease of access and connectivity, and it has the resources to last longer than a week. But if we dig a little bit deeper, that’s where my concerns lie.
Most social media platforms these days rely heavily on accessing a user’s personal data, and Threads is no different. But it’s the sheer amount of data that Threads will eat up that is concerning. It seems like it wants access to everything and anything data-wise.
Threads will have access to such a large swathe of a user’s data including, and not limited to: health and fitness, financial information, contact information, user contact, browsing history, usage data, diagnostic data, purchases, a user’s location, their contacts, search history, identifiers, and other sensitive information. Keeping your personal data private seems like an impossible task these days, but Threads is taking invasion of privacy to the next level.
It’s this massive use of personal data that is preventing Threads from being launched in the European Union for the time-being, as it goes directly against the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which was put in place to limit the sharing of user data across various platforms. So if you and your business plan to move to threads, and you have an international client base, from launch you will be accessible to clients in 100 different countries, including the UK and the US, but none in the EU.
So should you and your business use Threads? Our advice is not to jump on it right away, instead wait and monitor the app to see if it is a good fit for both your business and for your audience. Our initial feeling is that Threads could develop into a good customer service channel with fast pace of content and room for immediate response.
But I advise that you bear in mind how much of your personal data you could be sacrificing in signing up to Threads. Of course it’s well known that Twitter and Instagram and other existing apps also like to harvest your data, but it’s still something that businesses should think about before jumping on the bandwagon.
So will Threads prove to be the demise of Twitter and the best new place for your business, or will it merely be a flash in the pan? Only time will tell, and its why we think you should wait for a bit before making the move.