Big TechAnalysis

Threads takes on Twitter - what you need to know

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta plans to take on Twitter with the launch of a new app this week

The latest battle between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk is brewing – but it won’t be a cage fight. Instead, the tech executives are going head to head for users with Twitter versus Threads.

What is Threads?

Threads is Meta’s answer to Twitter, an Instagram-linked text-based conversation app that allows you to build communities and discuss topics and trends. It launched on July 6th in both Google’s Play Store and the Apple App Store. But so far, the app hasn’t appeared in the app stores for any EU countries.

When can I get it?

While Meta launched Threads globally on Thursday, there is no date for its launch in the European Union and a few other territories. With Meta currently under scrutiny by the data protection watchdogs here, the social media company is likely to make sure it has its “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed before it makes it available in the EU. Still, if you have an account for the app stores in the likes of the US or UK, you can download it even if you are in Ireland.

Be careful about messing with your app store settings, however. It’s not as simple as saying you are in the UK and the companies will allow you to start merrily downloading apps; you need to have access to a payment method for that country.


If you are on an Android phone, you can download the software outside the Play Store. However, that involves taking a risk that what you download is the genuine article - and that it won’t come with something nasty hidden inside.

How does it work?

We know that it will allow people to follow accounts they already follow on Instagram, and keep the same username. That means you won’t be starting from scratch in building your community, unlike other Twitter alternatives such as BlueSky and Mastodon.

Why now?

Zuckerberg has been talking about Threads in one way or another for some time. The project was first mentioned earlier this year, under the code name P92, and was put forward as a decentralised microblogging platform. Now we have a real name, Threads, and a launch date.

It seems as good a time as any to do it, given that many Twitter users are unhappy with the changes that Musk has brought to the platform since he took over last year, and are actively looking for an alternative.

Could Meta win people over?

Stranger things have happened. Two high-profile tech executives challenging each other to a cage fight, for example.

Meta has previously taken elements of other social media platforms and integrated them into its own, with varying degrees of success. Instagram reels, for example, or Stories on Facebook and Instagram. There’s no reason why it can’t do the same with Threads, assuming it can get enough users.

Although some experts believe that this will be the first credible threat to Twitter, it has to be weighed against the reputation that Meta has fashioned for itself in the past few years, and it hasn’t all been good. From Cambridge Analytica to manipulating users’ emotions as part of a newsfeed experiment, to impacting users’ mental health, Meta hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory.

But Twitter has made a number of strange choices lately, too. The company imposed a number of restrictions on the service, including a temporary cap on how many posts people can read on the site, and requiring users to be verified to use TweetDeck. Musk said the cap was to address “data scraping”, limiting unverified users to reading 600 posts per day and Twitter Blue subscribers to 6,000 posts.

That comes after a concerted push towards subscription through Twitter Blue, which has seen “verified” accounts with blue checks rise to the top of every conversation thread; a serious cut in staff numbers to leave it with a fraction of the workforce it had before; and a number of outages.

When taken against that backdrop, it starts to even the scales for Threads somewhat. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said more than 10 million accounts had been opened in the first seven hours after it launched.

This article was updated on July 6th to reflect the launch of Threads