Enhanced Organization: Structured Conversations at Your Fingertips
Threads is here and already has millions of subscriptions, no doubt due to its easy joining process, instant availability for Android and iOS users, and the fact that its user interface shares a lot of familiar features with its main competitor, Twitter.
But what about the differences between the two microblogging platforms? How did Threads really differentiate themselves from Twitter? Like many Twitter users, you may be hungry for an alternative and wondering how the Meta app differs from Twitter and whether those differences are worth subscribing to and learning how to navigate another social media app.
We’ve already discovered 10 stark differences between Threads and Twitter, and the below list of those differences is by no means exhaustive. Some are a good departure from the Twitter experience, some not so good, and some may be temporary because it’s still in its infancy and topics are still evolving. Anyway, below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these differences and how they seem to affect the user experience in the themes.
Thread accounts link to existing social media accounts
If you sign up for Thread, one thing you’ll notice right away is that it requires an existing Instagram account to sign up. That’s right, your threads account will be linked to your IG account. This is indeed a big difference from Twitter, which allows you to create an account without linking it to any other platform. This has two consequences, one obvious and one not so obvious. The obvious thing is if you want to account for more anonymous strings, this probably won’t happen if you’re using your existing IG account. In fact, your Thread account profile automatically includes a link to that Instagram profile, which people can use to visit your IG profile.
(Though you could probably just sign up for a new IG account and use it to create more anonymous threads.)
The second not-so-obvious consequence of linking your IG account to Thread is that because of the way Threads are currently set up, you can’t delete your Threads account without deleting the linked Instagram account. So if you decide threads aren’t really for you but you want to keep that IG account, your only option is to deactivate your Thread account.
(It’s also worth noting that Instagram head Adam Mosseri posted a thread on Thursday, addressing the account deletion issue on Threads and saying that they’re “looking for a way to delete your Thread account separately.”)
For now, it’s mobile only
Many people prefer accessing Twitter via the desktop website rather than scrolling through tweets on the mobile app. There is a thread website, but you can’t access the platform directly in this way. As of now, the Themes website only features a QR code to direct users to its mobile app. And so, at this time, if you strongly prefer accessing your social media via a desktop website, Themes may not be the platform for you.
But it could be in the future. Mosseri posted a response to the threads which indicated that a website version of the platform was brewing. And as you may have noticed, while you can’t browse or create content on threads via a desktop website, you can view profiles and posts on the desktop web if you have a link to them, like the previous link in this paragraph.
There is only one main feed
Social media platforms are notorious for filling your feeds with recommended (usually spam) content from accounts you haven’t followed. But Twitter (and Instagram and Facebook for that matter) offers other options for viewing your feed that allow you to narrow down the posts you scroll through only to posts from people you follow or who you’ve added to specific lists or added to favourites. Twitter specifically has the following lists and tab feature, to allow its users to escape its algorithm.
Threads…don’t do that. With threads, you get one main feed to browse through and it’s kind of a wild free-for-all. It’s often filled with all sorts of accounts that you don’t even follow, although sometimes some of the accounts you do follow make it to the top of your feed. The feed isn’t chronological either, which adds to the chaos.
According to Instagram’s blog about the topics, the feed aims to feature “recommended content from new creators you haven’t discovered yet.” So don’t expect these random accounts to disappear from the thread feed anytime soon. As of now, in threads, you won’t be able to escape recommended randos in your feed without having to individually mute or block them.
There are no popular topics
In Topics, there are no popular topics to tell you what everyone is talking about, what the speech is about today, or who the main character is. Twitter’s Trending Topics feature is often a source of gossip, horror (“Why is my favorite celebrity name trending?!”), and breaking news. Popular themes had their annoying issues, but the lack of themes seems to be a fault. It is a feature that provides a quick and convenient way to know the important news of the day and easy access to more information about that news. Hopefully, in its quest to replace Twitter, Threads will figure out a way to incorporate popular topics on its platform.
Threads does not have hashtags yet
Hashtags make it easy to find content related to the topics you care about the most. If you were obsessed with the latest season of The bear (And who isn’t?), a quick search of the official Twitter hashtag turns up tons of tweets filled with everyone’s big feelings about specific episodes or characters. Hashtags allow you to live through tweets and find a community around important events, movements, or even just sports or TV shows.
This is why it’s such a shame threads don’t have this important feature yet. But don’t worry yet. Hashtags are among the included features that Mosseri acknowledges are missing from this early version of Threads. So they are probably working on it.
Your likes don’t have their own tab on your profile
On Twitter, when you like a post, the platform tracks those likes on your profile for all to see. You can see what someone has liked by going to their Twitter profile and selecting the Likes tab.
Threads, on the other hand, doesn’t have a dedicated tab to show the whole world what you’ve liked. As far as we can tell, it simply has two profile tabs: Topics (your posts) and Replies. This does not mean that any of your likes are not public. Sometimes people can see what you’ve liked in the main feed while they’re scrolling. But at least in topics, there is no dedicated, easy-to-access public section of your page everyone of your business.
Yes, at this time Threads is blessedly ad-free. But let’s be real, this is only the first full day of the app’s existence and release to the public and it’s very likely that threads will show ads in the feed at some point. (In a response posted to Threads, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemed to indicate that ads (or “monetization”) could come to Threads after the app has been optimized and the goal of 1 billion users is reached.)
But for now, enjoy freedom from ads.
There are no direct messages
Threads also currently lack direct messages. So if you’re big on chatting with your friends via DM, Topics might not be for you. It’s also not clear if adding DMs to threads in the future is really a priority. According to a thread posted by Mosseri, the messages were listed under a series of missing features from the threads, but the messages were listed with the word “maybe”. As in, they may not be sure to add it to the threads as the other missing features listed.
There is no way to bookmark posts
As someone who bookmarks *LOTS* of posts every single day, this was the most frustrating part of Threads. There is currently no way to save or bookmark a post. Hopefully they will add them in a future update, make them searchable, and allow users to organize them into folders. We know you can do it threads! Instagram already allows you to save and organize posts.
500 character limit for text posts
Twitter users using the platform without a Twitter Blue subscription, can post tweets with a maximum length of 280 characters. Twitter Blue subscribers can post tweets of up to 4,000 characters.
Threads are currently somewhere in the middle offering up to 500 characters per post for free. Which is a welcome change from Twitter. Four thousand characters is honestly overkill for a microblogging site, and 280 can sometimes feel a little tight. Five hundred characters may actually be the sweet spot that helps keep things succinct and allows us to write down our thoughts without having to find other ways to shorten them with emojis or other methods.