Facebook has tried to compete with Twitter in numerous ways over the years, including copying signature Twitter features such as hashtags and trending topics. But now Facebook’s parent company is taking perhaps its biggest swipe at Twitter yet.
Meta on Wednesday officially launched a new app called Threads, which is intended to offer a space for real-time conversations online, a function that has long been Twitter’s core selling point.
The app received 30 million sign-ups as of Thursday morning, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on his verified Threads account.
The app appears to have many similarities to Twitter, from the layout to the product description. The listing, which first appeared earlier this week as a teaser, emphasizes its potential to build a following and connect with like-minded people.
“The vision for Threads is to create an option and friendly public space for conversation,” Zuckerberg said in a Threads post following the launch. “We hope to take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas, and discussing what’s on your mind.”
He also responded to posts and shared his thoughts on whether Threads will ever be bigger than Twitter.
“It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it,” Zuckerberg wrote on Threads. “Hopefully we will.”
The app’s listing describes it as a place where communities can come together to discuss everything from the topics they care about today to what’s trending.
“Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world,” it reads.
Meta said messages posted to Threads will have a 500 character limit. The company said it was bringing the app to 100 countries via Apple’s iOS and Android.
After downloading the app, users are asked to link up their Instagram page, customize their profile and follow the same accounts they already follow on Instagram. The look is similar to Twitter with a familiar layout, text-based feed, the ability repost and quote other Thread posts. But it also blends Instagram’s existing aesthetic and offers the ability to share posts from Threads directly to Instagram Stories. Verified Instagram accounts are also automatically verified on Threads. Thread accounts can also be listed as public or private.
The new app joins a growing list of Twitter rivals and could pose the biggest threat to Twitter of the bunch, given Meta’s vast resources and its massive audience.
It also comes amid heightened turmoil at Twitter, which experienced an outage over the weekend, followed by an announcement that the site had imposed temporary limits on how many tweets its users are able to read while using the app.
Twitter owner Elon Musk said these restrictions had been applied “to address extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation.” Commenting on the launch of Threads Monday, he tweeted: “Thank goodness they’re so sanely run,” parroting reported comments by Meta executives that appeared to take a jab at Musk’s erratic behavior.
Since acquiring Twitter in October, Musk has turned the social media platform on its head, alienating advertisers and some of its highest-profile users. He is now looking for ways to return the platform to growth. Twitter announced Monday that users would soon need to pay for TweetDeck, a tool that allows people to organize and easily monitor the accounts they follow.
Twitter is also attempting to encroach on Meta’s domain. In May, Twitter added encrypted messaging and said calls would follow, developments that could allow the platform to compete with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, also owned by Meta.
The escalating rivalry between the two companies only appears to have added to the rivalry between Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In response to a tweet last month from a user about Threads, Musk wrote: “I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck’s thumb with no other options.” In a followup tweet, Musk teased the idea of a cage match with Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg fired back in an Instagram story by posting a screenshot of Musk’s tweet overlaid with the caption: “Send Me Location.”
And after the Threads app debuted, Zuckerberg tweeted an image of two cartoon Spider-Men pointing at each other.
— CNN’s Hanna Ziady contributed to this report.