Threads vs. Twitter: 5 Ways Instagram’s New App Comes Up Short (for Now)

Threads vs. Twitter: 5 Ways Instagram’s New App Comes Up Short (for Now)

July 7, 2023

Should you ditch Twitter in favor of Instagram’s Threads — which looks quite a lot like a clone of Twitter?

Meta launched Threads, a “conversational” text-centric app tied to Instagram, on Wednesday, a day earlier than expected. The internet giant sees an opportunity to take on Twitter, controlled by tech mogul Elon Musk, which has been beset by various technical and business issues since he acquired the company.

“I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Threads post. “Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will.”

Threads hit 10 million sign-ups in the first seven hours of its release, Zuckerberg boasted in a post. That sounds like a big number, but it represents less than 0.5% of Instagram’s 2 billion-plus monthly active users. Compared with other Twitter wannabes, Threads has an enormous advantage in that it’s designed to activate an account on the app using an existing Instagram profile (and prompts you to follow the same accounts in your Instagram feed).

It’s obviously early days. But here are five areas where Threads trails Twitter, at least initially.

  • You can’t set Threads to view only posts from accounts you follow: Out of the gate, this seemed to be the biggest issue users called out. Threads shows you posts from not just the people you follow — but a range of other accounts you don’t. Given that Threads is literally in its start-up phase, this approach appears designed to ensure users don’t see a blank space when they open up the app. Instagram head Adam Mosseri, replying to several users who asked whether Threads could be set to see only followed accounts, said it’s “on the list” for future enhancements.
  • No web interface: You can read Threads on the service’s website (, but right now you can’t post, repost, like or comment on the web. Mosseri, in response to a user asking about this, said “the priority is the mobile apps, but we are working on http://www.”
  • You can’t delete your Threads profile without deleting your Instagram account: As noted by TechCrunch, Meta says in its “supplemental privacy policy” for Threads, “You may deactivate your Threads profile at any time, but your Threads profile can only be deleted by deleting your Instagram account.” That may give users pause about adopting Threads.
  • No ability search posts: Right now, the search function in Threads only lets you find user accounts. Instagram said that “we’ll be adding a number of new features to help you continue to discover threads and creators you’re interested in, including improved recommendations in feed and a more robust search function that makes it easier to follow topics and trends in real time.”
  • No monetization: The lack of advertising in Threads may be a plus in terms of user experience. But the absence of an ad model is a negative for Meta’s business. For now, Instagram is not focused on generating revenue by serving up ads on Threads, according to Mosseri. “Honestly not [the] priority right now,” he wrote Wednesday. “So humbled by everyone signing up, but we gotta make sure this is an app people want to keep using before we worry about making money…” That said, Threads longer-term could pad Meta’s bottom line incrementally, to the tune of 1%-3% per year, once it reaches “maturity,” Wells Fargo analyst Ken Gawrelski opined in a research note.

Other features not available in Threads currently include DMs, language translation, the ability to edit posts and the ability to easily switch among multiple accounts. But overall, Threads — as a 1.0 product release — feels like a fairly solid release, even given the areas where it can improve. One key area to watch is that Instagram is pledging to make Threads interoperable with other social networks via the decentralized ActivityPub protocol, which is supported by apps including Mastodon.

The biggest advantage Threads has over Twitter? That may be that Threads is not under the thumb of the right-leaning, mercurial mega-billionaire Musk. But depending on your level of trust in Meta, which has been accused of anticompetitive behavior and violating privacy laws in multiple countries, it may be a choice between two evils.

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