Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
The joy of publishing to a brand new social media timeline is palpable, as users flood into the Instagram-based spinoff.
"The Thread gates have opened," posted tech journalist Joanna Stern. "Finally, people are liking my posts. They like me. They really like me!"
"Who will be the first Threads main character?" asked fellow tech scribe Taylor Lorenz.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri said "the last few days with you all have been really something special"—presumably referencing the users who could access Threads before it went public—and explained that the launch will take a little time.
"The apps have been published, though they will take some time to propagate, so we'll start seeing the doors open right about now," he posted. "We're hoping this can be an open and friendly platform for conversations—the best thing you can do if you want that too is be kind."
His post had 2,664 likes and 382 replies at time of writing, about half an hour after it was published.
The Threads onboarding process immediately links to your Instagram account, if you have that app installed, and encourages you to follow the same accounts on Threads. This integration avoids the primary problem of a new social network: building a social graph from scratch.
The interface is considerably less cluttered than Twitter, but includes most of the functions familiar to users of the birdsite: a main timeline of people and companies you follow, with the ability to reply to, like, reshare, and share individual posts, notifications (with the ability to filter replies, mentions, and entries from verified accounts), and search.
Hashtags do not appear to be clickable links. The timeline and search views also include suggested users to follow, which unsurprisingly appear to be verified celebrities.
In addition to a flood of commentary about Twitter and Elon Musk, the rush of launch-related activity has also prompted complaints about app notifications (triggered whenever an Instagram contact signs on for the first time), and the fact that the default timeline appears to include posts by Instagram contacts as well as people those contacts follow.
"This is far from a complete experience, but I'm hopeful it brings more people out of Twitter and can start the move towards greater adoption of federated social media," wrote Myke Hurley, podcaster and cofounder of Relay FM. "Right now, I have faith."
The launch comes in the midst of another turbulent time for Twitter, as the site drastically restricted access for users and visitors alike. The tumult of the past few days also inspired the beta launch of Spill, another Twitter alternative.
Meta has promised that Threads will interoperate with the ActivityPub protocol, the distributed social media system best known for linking Mastodon servers. Although this ostensibly makes the tech giant's server at threads.net the single largest node in that network, its implementation is still incomplete.
Not everyone in the "fediverse"—the federated social universe—is thrilled about their new neighbor, with several Mastodon servers announcing that they will not federate with Threads, largely due to privacy concerns.
"We expect that eventually Mastodon and Threads will be interoperable, and from a technical standpoint, users will be able to follow each other and exchange messages," writes Mastodon developer Eugen Rochko. "However, it is up to the operator of the Mastodon server you’re are using to decide whether to allow communication with Threads or not."
As part of the Meta family of apps—which includes Facebook and WhatsApp, in addition to Instagram—Threads has a very large appetite for user data. The list of information Threads can access, as disclosed in both Apple and Google's app stores, includes everything from contact and location information to web browsing and search activity—as well as other "sensitive" information.
Because the EU has much more strict privacy laws, Threads is not launching in the region.
For now, Mark Zuckerberg is also joining the revelry.
"The vision for Threads is to create an open and friendly public space for conversation," he explained, between replying to a handful of posts by other verified accounts. "We hope to take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas, and discussing what's on your mind."
"Glad you're all here on day one," he added. "Let's build something great together!"