If you’re breathing and online, you’ve likely heard about Threads, the new kinder, gentler, less Musk-y Twitter threat everyone’s talking about.
If you have an Instagram account, you might be on Threads, too −alongside me and 105+ million other people −pretending to pay attention at work when we’re really just sneaking peeks at what’s threading now.
It’s been less than a week since the team behind Instagram pushed the ad, troll, and bot-free new social media space out to the world, and already it’s obliterated every previous app launch record to date. By a lot.
“I think this is going to be probably the best product launch of 2023,” said author and NYU Professor Scott Galloway on the Pivot Podcast he co-hosts with famed tech journalist Kara Swisher on Friday.
For context, it took TikTok nine months to hit the 100 million mark and Instagram a full two and a half years to reach that milestone.
“100 million people signed up for Threads in five days. I’m not sure I can wrap my mind around that fact,” wrote Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri on his Threads account. “It’s insane; I can’t make sense of it,” he said.
But Thread’s meteoric launch is just one of several early headlines (Threadlines?) here. Let’s hit the biggest questions so far and “threadiquette,” before that new car smell starts to wear off.
Will Threads Replace Twitter?
That’s the $44 billion question, and for tens of thousands of people, it already has.
According to Insider, a private poll of 200 current Twitter employees showed that nearly 70% responded “yes” to the prompt “Threads, RIP Twitter?”
As Twitter continues its downward spiral amid crisis, chaos, and more “c” words like the one its billionaire owner, Elon Musk, tweeted Sunday −many of us are ready to move on to a more grown-up platform.
Is Threads free to use?
Threads is free. It’s clean. It’s friendly (so far.) It’s remarkably easy to sign up for and use. Meta − the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp − created it. After all this time, you would hope the brains over there know a thing or two about what people want from social media these days.
I’m incredibly impressed with Mosseri and other core Threads team members’ thoughtful questions and replies to people on the app.
They’re equal parts serious, thoughtful, and playful. It feels like friends and colleagues talking to each other. Yep, like Twitter used to.
Let’s not forget that Instagram has some 2.35 billion “active monthly users.” Threads is a brand extension versus a totally new product, and the early joiners (like me) were easy to cherry-pick at launch. Porting our profiles, followers, and street cred over in one tap is as pain-free for the end user as it gets.
What New Features Are Coming to Threads?
Mosseri posted Tuesday that the Threads team is working to roll out the “obvious missing features, like a following feed, the edit button, and post search.”
My list of wants includes:
— A chronological timeline
— Ability to edit, even after I hit “post”
— Way to organize by topic/people
— A desktop app (see way to install to Windows desktop.)
— The ability to share Threads profile across socials, not just to specific people on Instagram
— Direct messages
Mosseri said Threads is not going to touch “news,” but as several people have pointed out, they kind of have to, especially with an election on the horizon.
How they’ll keep content curation focusing on user safety and limiting harm remains to be seen.
‘Twitter killer:’Is this the end of Twitter? What to know about Threads, Facebook’s new ‘Twitter killer’
How do I get started with Threads?
Download the Threads app. I also suggest following @threadsapp. It’s the official Thread head and chock full of hidden gems from the apps’ creators and users alike.
Tips and Tricks For Using Threads
Early adopters are posting many handy “pro” tips and tricks too.
Turn off all the annoying notifications:
— Open Threads > Profile (person icon in the lower right corner) > Menu (two lines in the upper right corner) > Notifications. From here, You can customize what, if any, notifications you want.
Hide offensive words, phrases, and accounts:
— It’s fairly easy to filter out trigger words, emojis, and topics you want to keep out of your Threads. Go to your Profile > Menu (two lines in the upper right corner) > Privacy > Tap on Hidden Words. This setting is “on” by default, but you can customize it too.
Hide, block, or mute other accounts:
— Any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads. You can customize it even more too. Go to your Profile > Menu > Privacy > Tap on Other Privacy Settings > Go to Connections.
Can you delete your Threads account without deleting your Instagram account?
According to Mosseri, you can deactivate your Threads account (which hides your Threads profile and content), set your profile to private, and you can delete individual threads posts − all without deleting your Instagram account.
“Threads is powered by Instagram, so right now it’s just one account, but we’re looking into a way to delete your Threads account separately,” he posted.
How long can the Threads honeymoon last?
Twitter’s where I used to go to see the cool kids’ thought bubbles and get the smartest, funniest, most interesting takes on topics that matter the most to me.
But now, Twitter feels like an absolute rotten fish dumpster fire.
I crack it open and see message requests from scantily dressed women, crypto-bots, and so much nasty name-calling. My feed is full of ads, reply-guys, trolls, and I’m offended pretty much every time I look at it.
That’s on top of Musk wanting me to pay for a verification checkmark I actually earned and maintained organically for more than a decade, capping how many Tweets we could read, and fact he continues to come across like an unhinged billionaire brat boy desperately in need of strict boundaries and a hug.
It makes Mark Zuckerberg look like a puckish Mr. Rogers right about now.
For me, it comes down to “clean” engagement without all the nasty security breaches, fringe group fighting, and dishonest manipulation.
Does that mean we might have to pay for our privacy and lack of ads? It might, and that’s okay.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech columnist and on-air correspondent.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
Contact her at [email protected].