Meta Platforms on Wednesday launched a direct challenge to Twitter with Threads, garnering millions of users in hours as it sought to take advantage of its rival’s much-weakened state after a series of chaotic decisions from owner Elon Musk.
Those quick to join the new platform included celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez as well as prominent politicians such as Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in his first post on the app, along with a fire emoji. He said the app logged 10 million sign-ups in seven hours.
He also took to Twitter, posting a well-known meme of Spiderman facing off against Spiderman in a humorous jab at the rivalry with Musk and between the two services.
Analysts have said Threads’ ties to Instagram might give it a built-in user base and advertising apparatus. That could syphon ad dollars from Twitter at a time when its new CEO is trying to revive its struggling business.
While Threads launched as a standalone app, users can log in using their Instagram credentials and follow the same accounts, potentially making it an easy addition to existing habits for Instagram’s more than 2 billion monthly active users.
“Investors can’t help but be a little excited about the prospect that Meta really has a ‘Twitter Killer’,” said Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at investment firm AJ Bell.
Others saw the launch of Threads as an opportunity to create a less toxic version of Twitter.
“May this platform have good vibes, a strong community, excellent humour, and less harassment,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her post.
Much like Twitter, the app features short text posts that users can like, re-post, and reply to, although it does not include any direct message capabilities. Posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to five minutes long, according to a Meta blog post.
It is available in more than 100 countries on both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, the blog post said.
Meta stock closed up 3% on Wednesday ahead of the launch, outpacing gains by rival tech firms.
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, called the new app an “initial version”, with extra features planned, including the ability to interact with people on other social media apps like Mastodon.
“Our vision with Threads is to take what Instagram does best and expand that to text,” the firm said prior to its launch.
Despite Threads being a standalone app, users log in using an Instagram account. Their Instagram username carries over, but there is an option to customize their profile specifically for Threads.
Users will also be able to choose to follow the same accounts they do on Instagram, Meta says. The app allows users to be private on Instagram but public on Threads.
The new app’s release comes after criticism of Meta’s business practices.
Last year, Meta whistleblower Frances Haugen said the company had put “profits over safety” and criticised how the platform was moderated.
The company was also rocked by a scandal in which it allowed third parties, including British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, to access Facebook users’ personal data.
In an apparent reference to this controversial past, Mr. Musk joked on Monday “Thank goodness they’re so sanely run”.
There are several alternatives to Twitter available, such as Bluesky and Mastodon, but these have struggled to gain traction.
Threads has a significant advantage because it is connected to Instagram and the hundreds of millions of users already on that platform.