Threads: What is it, can it rival Twitter and what are the risks?

Meta’s latest app launched in the UK at midnight on Thursday.

An app to rival Twitter from the creators of Facebook has launched in the UK but worries about security still loom.

Threads – created by Facebook and Instagram owners Meta – went live in the UK at midnight on Thursday and has already seen over 10 million people join, according to Meta Boss Mark Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg has seen over 10 million users flock to Threads so far (Niall Carson/PA)

Posting on the new app under the username zuck and using a “mind blown” emoji, Mr Zuckerberg wrote: “10 million sign up in seven hours.”

With many changes taking place on Twitter under the ownership of Elon Musk, including the removal of verified legacy accounts and changes to Twitter’s dashboard application Tweetdeck, users will be trying their luck with Zuckerberg’s latest offering.

The PA news agency have answered some of the most common questions many may have about Threads.

What is Threads?

Similar to Twitter, the new social media app focuses on text posts.

It allows users to post up to 500 characters of text and up to five minutes of video and links, as well as pictures.

How do you sign up?

The Threads app can be downloaded from Google Play Store or the Apple Pay Store onto an Android or iOS device.

Those who already have an Instagram account can use their login details to sign into the app, with users being able to select if they want a private or public profile before they start posting.

How is the app similar to Twitter?

Visually, Threads looks similar to Twitter, with options to post, quote a thread, search, like and reply to posts and view ‘activity’ linked to what you post – which is also the case for Twitter through ‘notifications’.

Threads app as on the App Store
Threads app as on the App Store (screengrab)

The column-based design of Twitter also seems to have been replicated by Threads, with users scrolling vertically through the app to view what others are posting.

There is also a verification option, which currently appears to give a blue verified tick to accounts already verified on Instagram.

How does the app differ from Twitter?

Unlike Twitter, Threads does not currently have an option of directly messaging other users, and there is no desktop version at the moment.

Other features that Twitter has that Threads does not include lists, bookmarks and the ability to join communities.

Threads also does not appear to use hashtags and searching for words and phrases posted by users instead of the names of specific accounts, which has historically been easy to do on Twitter, seems to be limited.

Are there any security or privacy fears?

Many have voiced concerns about the app’s use of personal data, with reports stating the app has not launched in the European Union (EU) on Thursday because of this issue and the implementation of the EU’s Digital Markets Act.

There is still uncertainty about how the app will use data from users, but many have pointed to alleged risks surrounding its launch – including Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

“All your Threads are belong to us,” he posted, alongside a widely shared screenshot of the privacy section for Threads on the App Store – which suggests the app will collect data including financial information, contacts and browsing history.

Current Twitter owner Musk replied to the tweet, posted on Tuesday, simply stating: “Yeah.”

What have social media users been saying about the app?

Celebrities have already began flocking to Threads, with singer Shakira posting “Well hello threads”.

Chef Gordon Ramsey posted: “Is this where I find the lamb sauce??”

Meanwhile, businessman Richard Branson wrote: “Thready, steady, go.”

Richard Branson posting to Threads
Richard Branson posting to Threads (screengrab)

Others have shared their hopes for the new app or expressed their relief from having a new social media tool to use instead of Twitter.

One posted a cartoon image of a mythical creature performing a yoga pose, with the caption: “How it feels not being on Twitter for three seconds.”

However, on Twitter, many did not appear sold by the new app – with one tweet with over 1,000 likes stating users are “running back to Twitter” after trying Threads “for five minutes”.

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