Meta, Facebook’s parent, released Threads for pre-order at the iOS App Store. A bare-bones website version was also leaked this morning. That lets us take an advance look at the company’s answer to Elon Musk’s Twitter.
“Say more” with Threads, Meta says.
From the company’s App Store description:“Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow. 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.”
Meta chose Instagram over Facebook as the base social network to power Threads. It’s not a great option for me personally (I barely use Instagram), but Instagram is a much more youth-focused, hip and growing property in the Meta portfolio. Early adopters are able to retain their Instagram username and follow people automatically.
Threads allows you to like a post with a heart-shaped symbol. You can also comment and re-thread (???Threads’ version of sharing or tweeting is a recycling symbol. There’s also the typical Instagram arrow to send a post to a specific person or group of people, or another social platform.
Threads will launch with fairly minimal and basic functionality at first, including the ability to control viewability of your threads to anyone, only profiles you follow, or only people you’ve mentioned in the thread. Oddly, there’s no option to limit viewability to people who follow you (at least based on the screenshots Meta has shared so far).
One thing that the internet has not missed is Threads’ extensive list of privacy disclosures: data that the app collects that Apple’s iOS App Store requires apps to share.
The long list reflects Meta’s deep knowledge of its users, especially multiplatform users who are also on Facebook, Messenger or WhatsApp. The following data “maybe be collected and linked to your identity” on Threads:
- Health & fitness
- Financial information
- Information about Contact Person
- Content created by users
- Browse history
- Usage data
- Find out where to go
- Search the history
- Protecting sensitive information
- Additional Data
It’s a very long list, and might be a result of a cautious first-launch manager’s decision to add everything just for full disclosure safety, to be amended later. Using Threads, if you don’t, is still a significant privacy step, just like using Facebook and Instagram. Meta connects a variety of information about you to help target advertisements.
Twitter, on the other hand, isn’t much better. It requests almost as many data points for tracking and linkage.
After a brief blip in functionality, the web-based version of Threads has returned to its pre-launch state. The countdown shows the date of the launch. This is expected to be July 6th.
Meta is a social network that can import your friend graph from the very first day. It solves the issue of cold starts most startups face. In addition, you’ll likely eventually be able to cross-post across Meta properties, much as you can from Instagram to Facebook now, which could help content.
Another key factor: whether Twitter can get its act together under its new CEO Linda Yaccarino, who has defended the network’s odd decision to rate-limit access to content.