It’s official: Instagram is unveiling its Threads app.
Meta Platforms Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch Wednesday evening, framing Threads as “a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.”
In other words, it’s gunning for Twitter, which has been undergoing a series of strategic shifts ever since Elon Musk acquired the platform last year.
While Threads is built around text updates, it will not be limited to words. It will also support photos and videos up to five minutes long, per Instagram.
As expected, Threads will be connected to users Instagram accounts, allowing for easy connections to followers, public figures or brands. The text posts will be limited to 500 characters. (Twitter, by contrast, has a 280 character limit, though it rises to 10,000 for Twitter Blue subscribers.)
Instagram says accounts will be private by default, with a main feed comprised of accounts you follow and suggested content from creators you perhaps haven’t discovered yet. Threads can be posted to Instagram stories, or shared via a link.
Threads will launch in more than 100 countries, with apps for iOS and Android, with plans to roll out new features like an enhanced recommendation engine and search functionality over time.
Perhaps most notable is Instagram’s goal to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open social networking protocol established by the World Wide Web Consortium. If that happens, Threads would be interoperable with other apps that support the ActivityPub protocol, including another Twitter competitor, Mastodon, and WordPress.
“Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa, ushering in a new era of diverse and interconnected networks,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Threads is Meta’s first app envisioned to be compatible with an open social networking protocol – we hope that by joining this fast-growing ecosystem of interoperable services, Threads will help people find their community, no matter what app they use.”
The launch of Threads is the culmination of a consequential week in text-based social media, with Twitter launching a surprise rate limiting rule over the weekend, and with early signs that Donald Trump’s Truth Social may seek to abandon its merger to go public.
While so far there have been many competitors to Twitter (including Mastodon, Truth Social, and Bluesky, among others), none have been able to replicate the network effects. Instagram is betting that by porting over its current social graphs, Threads will have a leg up on those nascent competitors.