Twitter Killer: What You Need To Know About Instagram Topics

Instagram’s new Twitter-killer app, Themes, is here. It is very similar to Twitter. Which is exactly the point.

Many social media users are ready — even desperate — to replace Twitter, as the app is going through a particularly difficult phase in what many see as a gradual product deterioration under Elon Musk’s leadership. This past weekend, the company started Limit the number of tweets People can read it, which is a questionable business decision and not very popular with users. While there are some alternatives, such as Mastodon and Bluesky, none have grown to outpace Twitter in popularity with a critical mass of politically and culturally influential figures.

So Meta-owned Instagram decided to strike while the iron is hot. The Threads app was initially expected to launch later this month, only to be moved to Thursday, and now, to today. The app will go live to users in 100 countries, though It is said no in the European Union (more on that later).

Meta, the parent company of Instagram, wrote in Company blog post Wednesday.

Functionally, threads are similar to Twitter, with a few minor differences. You can write short posts of up to 500 characters (versus 250 on Twitter) with links, images, and short videos up to five minutes long. Your thread feed will be algorithmic, meaning it will be populated with a mix of people you follow, and recommended content: much like Instagram now. Twitter gives you the option to switch between an algorithm and a chronological-based feed of only the people you follow. But overall, based on early screenshots of the app shared with Vox, the apps look pretty much the same.

The main distinguishing feature that separates Threads from Twitter is that it has decentralizing ambitions. Meaning that in the future, you should be able to plug your thread posts into other social media platforms like Mastodon – a very different approach from Twitter, which was Restrict free access to the API to third party developers. But the interoperability isn’t ready yet, according to Meta. It’s also not what a lot of everyday users care about, which is, who’s posting to them and how easy they are to use.

So how will this new app work, and what does it look like? Does he have a real chance of overtaking Twitter?

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How to use it and what it looks like

To use the themes, you will have to download it as a standalone app in the Apple or Android store.

Once you have the app, you can log in with your Instagram account, and choose to follow the same people you already follow on that platform. This is one of the biggest advantages of Threads over alternative Twitter apps: more than 2 billion people already have the social network built into Instagram, so unlike Mastodon, for example, you don’t have to completely rebuild your follower base from scratch.

The worlds of Instagram and Thread are very much interconnected. If your Instagram account has been verified (which you can now pay for), that verification will go to threads. You can post your posts on Instagram as a story or as a link to another platform.

Once you’re there, it works a lot like Twitter, albeit with an Instagram design style, including the same Instagram font and icons. You can like, reply or repost a topic. The feed will be a mix of people you follow and recommended content from people you don’t follow, according to Meta.

Getting the feed algorithm right will be key for Instagram. Several users have complained about the “For You” Twitter feed showing them Lots of content from random users They don’t want to be seen, and they miss the default chronological old-school feed on Twitter. We’ll see how users navigate to posts that threads think they want to see, versus the ones they voluntarily chose.

What does a decentralized approach to threads mean?

Themes is the first app from Meta to push towards “decentralization” – the idea that users should be able to move their social media content, and interact with users, across different apps all built around the same core standards.

Mastodon is the most popular social network that operates on a decentralized model, which advocates say can produce a better internet that is no longer dominated by a single social media company. Threads, similarly, plans to take a decentralized approach.

But she is not there yet.

Sometime “soon,” the company wrote in a blog post, Threads will be compatible with ActivityPub protocol. It’s a system developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international organization that sets standards for the modern internet, to independently control how social networks operate.

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The idea is that someday in the future, you could make your thread posts visible on other apps like Mastodon or WordPress, or vice versa, and have users comment on posts across the apps. And if you decide to stop using themes altogether, by default you’ll be able to move all of your content over to a new app.

“We believe that this decentralized approach, similar to the protocols that govern email and the web itself, will play an important role in the future of Internet platforms,” ​​Meta wrote in a blog post.

Decentralization is a noisy concept In today’s tech world, chains may give appeal to the more digitally savvy audience. But most users are not familiar with decentralization, and maybe they don’t care much about it. What really matters is how many people end up downloading and liking the app experience, which brings us to our next point.

Regulatory concerns and other obstacles

Meta faces some significant regulatory and reputational hurdles when it comes to launching this app globally.

For example, Meta It is not launched Topics in the EU at the moment due to regulatory uncertainty in the EU with the new Digital Markets Act, According to Bloomberg. The law defines what large corporations called “gatekeepers” can do.

“Europe continues to be a very important market for Meta. We are working on launching Threads in more countries and will continue to evaluate whether to launch in Europe, but the upcoming regulatory uncertainty played into our decision not to launch now,” a Meta spokesperson wrote to Vox in a statement.

Regarding privacy concerns, Meta said in its blog post that anyone under the age of 16 (or 18 in certain countries) will default to a private profile when they join threads. From a safety perspective, Instagram said it gives users the same tools they have on Instagram to limit who can tag or reply to you, hide certain offensive words in replies, and unfollow, block, or limit accounts.

But as the EU’s challenges show, Instagram will need to overcome something that a few privacy and security features alone can’t change: the underlying trust in its parent company, which has faced controversy over how it handles user data since the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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Furthermore, the leads will need to convince a large group of users that they are not only trustworthy, but relevant. The magic of Twitter was that it was a place where mighty world leaders, bumbling writers, A-list celebrities, and everyday netizens could chat to each other about the day’s news. For threads to have the same impact, you’ll need those culture newbies who can create compelling short posts 500 characters long.

Contrary to Instagram proper, Twitter’s social currency is words, not images. Meta invited top celebrities to join an early version of the app. Meta confirmed that big names like Malala Yousafzai, Shakira and Gordon Ramsay have already used it. Threads are probably any Twitter competitor’s best shot yet, and they’re going to need more of those kinds of heavyweights whose words matter, and the users they follow.

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