Using Threads one week on: Meta’s new app is entertaining but it’s no Twitter

Posted by Caroline Edwards in Comment

1 year ago

Meta’s Twitter rival app Threads reached 100 million user sign-ups within five days of launching. Creators and brands alike flocked to the app, which has been described by users as a wholesome place on the internet. As journalist Lucy Ford noted, it’s “2013 internet-core”. It feels like the early days of Facebook – chaotic yet welcoming, with people wishing their followers good morning.

If you’re a chronically online Twitter user such as myself, Threads is a letdown. As Business Insider pointed out, it’s designed to be boring. It does feel very mundane, but is it also addictive and do I scroll on it more than I care to admit? Yes, but it’s no Twitter – in both positive and negative ways.

As a new app, Threads has an incredibly sleek design but lacks thought-out features such as being able to search for posts (you can only search for users) and there are no bookmarks, hashtags or drafts, or even a chronological feed option or desktop version. There’s also no way to see what posts you’ve liked. Meta seems to be working on adding these features, according to head of Instagram’s Adam Mosseri’s replies to users on Threads. This is the first version, after all – there’s plenty of room for growth.

As Chrissy Teigen noted in a Thread post: “This is kind of cool. Instead of following people you wanna hear from, you get to unfollow people you only wanna see pics of lol.”

Although Twitter is a mess, the app’s design is excellent. Its algorithm has TikTok levels of perfection (mine is currently prioritising Love Island and Harry Styles news and the Barbie movie promotion, thank you very much) and has key features such as Spaces that enhance the user experience. It’s a hub of memes and its users have their fingers on the pulse of news and culture.

As writer Meecham Whitson Meriweather asked: “Is Threads gonna bridge the enormous gap where Instagram users don’t hear what’s happening on Twitter for like a week?” Exactly – asking the right questions. It could very well be a TikTok-Reels situation, meaning there is a gap between when conversations and trends move to Instagram.

Speaking to the void on Threads

At the moment, Threads feels like it’s only being used by influencers, meme accounts and brands. While it is essential for apps to be used by creators to demonstrate to their followers how to use the platform and get people on board, it’s not fun if you don’t have friends on the app. For regular users like myself, posting a Thread is like speaking to the void when you don’t have close friends to engage with.

That’s not to say there aren’t good things about Threads. Influencers are essentially treating it like their Stories or diary so as a follower, it feels more intimate. It’s also incredibly easy to start using, as you sign up with your Instagram account and have the option to automatically follow all the same users. Due to this, people gained followers at a rapid pace – US YouTuber MrBeast became the first person to reach one million followers.

It is worth noting that in order to delete your Threads account you have to delete your Instagram (users can make their accounts private or deactivate them) and that the app is not yet available in the EU due to concerns about its use of personal data.

Twitter might be a dumpster fire – more now than ever under Elon Musk’s control – and Threads is trying to move towards encouraging people to focus on topics such as entertainment, sports and music rather than politics or hard news. It does not aim to “replace Twitter”.

As Mosseri explained: “The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter.”

The big question is whether Threads is going to last or if it’s going to be a short-lived phenomenon like BeReal. It’s shiny and new and people are rampantly joining to see what all the fuss is about. But it’s highly unlikely to replace Twitter, at least not in the short term, and there are also data privacy concerns. Despite its experience flaws, Threads has legs for now – people who were never active on Twitter are posting on the app – but if it doesn’t add new features for search and discoverability, engagement will likely drop and it will be just another fad.

By Caroline Edwards, CORQ news and features writer.