Have your heard of Threads yet?
Threads is an upcoming social networking service owned by American company Meta Platforms, the parent company of Instagram, and will be released the day after tomorrow, Thursday 6 July 2023.
Designed as a platform for real-time conversations and sharing, Threads aims to provide users with a similar experience to Twitter, with an emphasis on public, text-based posts and conversations (also known as microblogging), and is closely linked to and based on sister social networking service Instagram.
Unlike Twitter, Threads is slated to be an ActivityPub-compatible decentralized social networking service, similar to the likes of Bluesky and Mastodon. Whilst initially supposed to launch at the end of July 2023, the launch of the service has been moved forward to the 6 July, reportedly to take advantage of the chaos at Twitter caused by recent usage limits imposed on users and the adoption of a compulsory login to be able to use the site.
Following the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, Twitter’s competitors have attempted to capitalise on the exodus of users. In a brainstorming session in late 2022 which focused on devising strategies to compete with Twitter, Meta Platforms employees discussed extending the rollout of Instagram Notes — a forthcoming text-based feature to Instagram as well as building a separate text-focused app.
Development on Threads began in January 2023. Moneycontrol obtained information about the app, then under the codename “P92“, in March. P92 would operate on the ActivityPub protocol and users would be able to use their Instagram credentials to sign up.
In June 2023, The Verge published details of an internal companywide meeting at Meta Platforms discussing “Project 92“, described by Meta Platforms chief product officer Chris Cox as the company’s “response to Twitter“. The company reportedly already had celebrities such as DJ Slime committed to using the app, and was in talks with Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama. It was also reported that the app would be based on Instagram
Details emerged about Threads in July, when developer Alessandro Paluzzi tweeted that Project 92 had been released onto the Google Play Store as Threads. The app was taken down several hours later, but Paluzzi posted several screenshots of the app’s features. On 3 July 2023, yesterday, Threads appeared on the Apple App Store with a release date of 6 July.
The unveiling of Threads came amid changes to how many tweets can be viewed a day. An official website at threads.net was also discovered, with a countdown clock counting down to the service’s launch, and links to download the service’s apps.
Threads accounts are closely integrated with Instagram accounts. Threads and Instagram accounts will reportedly share a username, profile picture and name, with users only able to change these details through Instagram. Users will be able to select whether followers, followed accounts and blocked users on Instagram carry over to Threads. Owing to the service’s decentralized nature and compatibility with the ActivityPub protocol, Threads accounts will be able to be found and accessed at @firstname.lastname@example.org by users of other decentralised social networking services such as Mastodon. Threads users can also limit replies on a post, which means that it will not be shared outside of Threads with other decentralised platforms, and will only remain within Threads itself.
Like most social networking services, Threads will be offered through native mobile clients for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms, with an Apple App Store listing for the service’s iOS client already live. A web application may reportedly be available, with profiles using the format threads.net/user.
* With thanks to Wikipedia for this up to date account of what’s happening
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