Catching Threads: The Ups, Downs and Unravelling

Image: Getty Images

The newly launched Threads microblogging app, a direct competitor to Twitter, describes itself as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app”, and promises to be “where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow”, has attracted millions of users across the globe within just a few hours of its launch, even including Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Users log in using their Instagram account and can write posts of up to 500 characters, as well as include links, photos, and up to five-minute videos, and follow existing contacts. While this sounds simple and appealing, it has some downsides.

The issue of privacy, which has repeatedly resurfaced with all META apps, is a significant factor pushing users to abandon Facebook and Instagram in favour of other platforms.

Threads collects data linked to your health and fitness, financial info, contacts, user content, purchases, location, search history, and usage data, the same data Instagram tracks.

But, many are concerned, and people are already trying to deactivate their accounts. The issue is: you can’t deactivate your Threads account unless you delete your Instagram account too.

While the app mimics Twitter’s feed page, full of text-based posts from suggested users, however, you need to log in through your Instagram account to get access to it. The app then imports your username and verification status from your Instagram account and provides an option for you to import your profile picture, bio, and website information.

Meta said in a statement that it envisions for Threads to be compatible with an open social networking protocol called ActivityPub. This protocol, which Meta describes as “decentralised”, would allow the content of different applications to appear on other app feeds.

“Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa, ushering in a new era of diverse and interconnected networks,” the statement said.

“The benefits of open social networking protocols go well beyond the way people can follow each other. Developers can build new types of features and user experiences that can easily plug into other open social networks, accelerating the pace of innovation and experimentation’.

Interestingly, Threads is not currently available in the E.U. due to concerns regarding data privacy around the Threads and Instagram link, likely wrapped up in the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Although it’s still early days, Threads’ potential to upset the established hierarchy of social media giants is palpable. This new player has the attention of Australians, as well as the wider world, leaving everyone wondering how this narrative will unfold. Will Threads become a permanent fixture on the social media scene, or will it fade as quickly as it appeared?

One thing is certain: Threads has made its mark and has had a mostly smooth launch and largely positive reception, aside from a slight hiccup when Zuckerberg’s own Threads failed to load…