Threads, Instagram's quirky Twitter killer app,  is here. And it looks  like Twitter. Which is exactly the point. 

Many social media users are ready — even desperate  — to switch Twitter because the app has gone through a particularly rough phase, which many see as a gradual decline of the product  under Elon Musk. Last weekend, the company began limiting the number of tweets people could read, a questionable business decision that was very unpopular with users. While there are a few options out there, like Mastodon and Bluesky, none have grown to surpass Twitter's popularity among a critical mass of politically and culturally influential people. 

So Meta-owned Instagram decided to strike while the iron is hot. The Threads app was originally supposed to launch later this month, but was pushed back this Thursday and now today. The program will be launched to  users in 100 countries, although apparently not in the European Union (more on that later). 

 "Our vision with Threads is to take what Instagram does best and extend it to text, creating a positive and creative space for the expression of ideas," Instagram parent company Meta wrote in a company blog  on Wednesday.  Functionally, Threads is similar to Twitter with  minor differences.

You can write short messages of up to 500 characters containing links, photos and short videos of up to five minutes. Your  feed is algorithmic, meaning it's filled with people you follow and recommended content: just like Instagram now. Twitter lets you choose between an algorithmic and a chronological stream of just the people you follow. But overall, based on early screenshots of the app shared with Vox, the apps look and feel pretty similar.  

The main  feature that distinguishes Threads from Twitter is that it has decentralized purposes. This means that in the future you should be able to link your Threads posts to other social media sites like Mastodon. This is a very different approach from Twitter, which restricted free API access to third-party developers. However, according to Meta, the interoperability is not ready yet. And that's not the most important thing for many everyday users, but who publishes and how easy it is to use.

So how does this new app actually work and what is it like? And does it have a real chance of surpassing Twitter? 

To use Threads, you must download it as a standalone app from the Apple or Android store.   Once you have the app, you can log in with your Instagram account and choose to follow the same people you already follow on the platform. This is one of the biggest advantages of Threads over other Twitter replacement apps: Instagram already has more than 2 billion people as a built-in social network, so unlike, say, Mastodon, you don't have to build your following completely  from scratch. . The worlds of Instagram and Threads  are very intertwined. Once you're verified on Instagram (which you can now pay for), your verification will transfer to threads. You can also post your thread as an Instagram story or as a link to another platform. 

 Once you're there, it works like Twitter, albeit with an Instagram design that includes the same Instagram font and icons. You can like, reply or repost a thread. According to Meta, your feed is a combination of people you follow and  content you recommend from people you don't follow. 

Choosing the right Feed feed algorithm is key on Instagram. Many users have complained that Twitter's For You feed shows them too much content from random users they don't want to see, and that they miss the old-school default chronological feed on Twitter. Let's see how users respond to the posts Threads think they want to see versus the ones they turned on voluntarily. 

What does the decentralized approach of Threads mean 
Threads is the first Meta app  to move toward "decentralization," the idea that users should be able to broadcast their content on social media  and interact with users across  apps that are all built on the same core standards.

In the interest of privacy, Meta said in a blog post that  under 16s (or 18s in some countries)  default to a private profile when they join threads. In terms of security, Instagram said it offers users the same tools  they have on Instagram to limit who can mention or reply to you, hide some offensive words from replies, and unfollow, block or limit accounts.  

But as the EU's challenges show, Instagram must overcome something that a handful of privacy and security features can't change: a foundation of trust in its parent company, which has faced controversy over how it handles user data since  Cambridge Analytica. a scandal 2018 

In addition, Threads must convince a critical mass of users that it is not only reliable, but also relevant. The magic of Twitter was that it was a place where powerful world leaders, sleazy authors, A-list celebrities, and everyday ultra-net users could chat with each other about the news of the day. For threads to have the same impact, we need those culture starters who can make engaging short 500 character posts. 

Unlike Instagram, Twitter's social currency is words, not images. Meta invited big celebrities to join the early version of the program. Big names like Malala Yousafzai, Shakira and Gordon Ramsay have already used it, Meta confirmed. Thread has perhaps  the best chance to become a Twitter contender, and it needs more heavyweights to read their words  and  users to follow them.