Instagram Threads is a new text-based social network similar to Twitter. It was created by Meta, the parent company of Facebook.
Social media companies are rushing to capture people fleeing Twitter in the wake of Elon Musk’s many changes. Meta (Facebook) hopes that Threads, a new text-based offshoot of Instagram, will be the answer, but is it more of the same?
What is Instagram Threads?
Instagram Threads is a social media app that revolves around writing short text posts up to 500 characters. Posts can also include photos, short videos, and links. If that sounds a lot like Twitter, you’d be right, and that’s the point.
Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, originally planned to launch the app at the end of July 2023, but it was moved to July 6 in 100 countries. The app is not available in the European Union due to strict privacy rules and the upcoming Digital Markets Law.
How to use Instagram threads
The Threads experience is most easily described as a cross between Instagram and Twitter. Some features have been clearly “inspired” by Twitter, and others have been carried over directly from Instagram. To get started, download the app from the App Store for iPhone or the Google Play Store for Android.
You can write text posts up to 500 characters long, join multiple text posts, add photos and videos up to 5 minutes long, mention other users, and share links.
Threads also have a number of familiar options. Just like on Instagram, you can tap the heart icon to like a post, reply to it, add it to your story, or post it to your feed. New to Threads is the ability to “Repost” and “Quote”. A “repost” is essentially a retweet, and quoting allows you to share the post with your own caption attached.
The home feed is purely algorithmic: there is no chronological option like there is on Twitter or Instagram. You are forced to see what Meta thinks you should see. At launch, that doesn’t include ads or sponsored posts, but it certainly will in the future.
Beyond the home feed, there’s also a search tab, an activity tab (replies, mentions, etc.), and a profile tab. That’s pretty standard fare for a modern social media app. That’s one of the reasons so many people come to it: it’s simple and familiar.
Do I need an Instagram account to use Threads?
You must log in to Threads with an Instagram account; it cannot be used without one. Threads may be a separate app, but it’s closely tied to Instagram. Your Instagram account and your Threads account are essentially the same. All of your personal information can be easily synced from Instagram during the registration process.
If you don’t have an Instagram account, you’ll need to create one to use Threads. Also, if you usually log in to Instagram with your Facebook account, you’ll need to unlink it by creating an Instagram-specific password in order to log in to Threads.
Are Instagram threads decentralized?
As of July 2023, Threads is not decentralized and Meta has not given a specific timeline for when it plans to do so.
During Threads’ registration process, one of the intro pages mentions “The Fediverse”. He explains that future versions of Threads will work with a “new type of social media network that allows people to follow and interact with each other on different platforms.” What is all this about?
Meta is talking about “decentralization,” which is the ability to communicate with different social media apps without needing to have accounts on those specific platforms. It’s the same concept as email: you can email someone with a Yahoo address from Gmail, for example.
Mastodon is the most popular decentralized social network right now. It is also part of Fediverse, which is a large set of servers that share the same protocols. Meta says it plans to make Threads compatible with Fediverse, which would mean you could follow a Threads account from Mastodon, and vice versa.
What data do Instagram threads collect?
As you’d expect from the company behind Facebook, Threads collects quite a bit of information about you. According to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store listings, Threads collects and links the following data to your identity:
- Health & Fitness
- Financial information
- Contact information
- user content
- Search History
- browsing history
- Usage data
- Confidential information
- Photos and videos
It is important to note that not all of these permissions are required. Long permission lists like this are unfortunately not uncommon. However, this is not the case for all social networking applications.
For example, here are the permission lists for Threads vs. the aforementioned Mastodon. We don’t normally post such extensive screenshots, but you can really tell the difference between the two services when you view the screenshots side by side.
As always, make sure you know what you’re getting into when you sign up for a new app.
How to delete a thread count
Since Threads is so closely connected to Instagram, you cannot delete your Threads account without also deleting your Instagram account. Starting in July 2023, once you sign up for Threads, you’re stuck as long as you have an Instagram account.
However, it is possible to deactivate your Threads account. This hides your profile and content from other Instagram threads and users. To do this, go to the profile tab > menu icon on the top right > Account > Deactivate profile.
Meta may change course and allow you to delete your Threads account separately in the future, but this is the best option for now. You will need to create a new Instagram account if you want to use Threads independently of your main account.
RELATED: How to delete your Instagram account
Can I use Instagram threads on desktop?
Instagram Threads is not available on desktop; It is only available on iPhone and Android through the mobile apps. As of July 2023, the threads.net website simply has a QR code directing you to download the app.
It took a while for Instagram to release a desktop version, and even longer for it to have the ability to post photos and videos. Since Twitter is used quite a bit on the desktop, there will most likely be a Threads desktop experience in the future.
That’s the story on Instagram Threads. It is Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to Twitter, but with the nicer brand of Meta behind it. With more than 2 billion monthly users on Instagram, Threads has the potential to be a huge success for the company.