If you’ve been keeping up with the tech world, then you’ve probably heard all about the Threads, Mark Zuckerberg and Meta’s newly-introduced rival that’s aiming to take Twitter’s crown. You’ve probably also heard that Elon Musk has threatened to sue Meta for what essentially amounts to intellectual property infringement, because Threads looks and feels a heck of a lot like Twitter.
There’s certainly a degree of truth to that, but the fact is that the two apps are also different in a number of key ways, and some of these ways might determine whether or not you want to sign up to Threads. Here are the main differences between Twitter and Threads.
You need an Instagram account for Threads
When you sign up to Twitter, you can do so in a variety of ways; you can provide an email address, for instance, or you can sign in using your existing Google or Apple account. That’s not the case with Threads, however, which requires you to have an Instagram account if you want to use it. This is because Threads is technically an extension app for Instagram; it’s a service bolted on top of the existing Instagram app rather than a completely new venture.
Threads doesn’t have DMs
If you’re planning to use Threads as a messaging app, then you should know that Threads doesn’t have a DM function, whereas Twitter does. It’s as simple as that: you can message other Twitter users, but you can’t message Threads users (although you can DM them on Instagram, since you will both have accounts). Of course, many Twitter users have their messaging preferences set so that strangers can’t message them, but nobody can message anybody else on Threads.
The companies running them are different
In this world of huge corporations, you may not notice many differences between Elon Musk and Meta in terms of end-user experience, but depending on where your particular morals and loyalties lie, you may have more faith in one than the other. As such, it’s worth mentioning that Elon Musk is in charge of Twitter, whereas Threads is run by Instagram and Facebook owner Meta. You can, of course, do with that information whatever you will.
The verification process isn’t the same
Before Elon Musk took over Twitter, the verification process for the app was simple: a blue checkmark indicated that you’d met Twitter’s requirements for being a person or brand of interest. Now, however, the blue checkmark doesn’t quite work the same way, and there’s also a gold checkmark, so it’s a little more confusing. Threads’ verification system is the same as Instagram’s; if you’re verified, it means you’ve met Instagram’s requirements for verification.
Threads supports the “fediverse” – or it will
Unlike Twitter, Threads will eventually be part of what’s known as the “fediverse”, a decentralised social media platform that allows different apps to integrate with one another. It’s a little more complex than that, but in essence, it will eventually mean that you’ll be able to interact with Threads users if you’re on platforms like Mastodon, and vice versa. This feature isn’t available yet, but Meta has confirmed that it’s in the pipeline.
Threads has a higher character limit
At time of writing (and, of course, it’s worth pointing out that social media apps are prone to sudden and seismic changes occurring in short spaces of time), Threads’ character limit is 500, whereas Twitter’s is 280. This means that if you want to create a longer text post, then you’re better off using Threads; Twitter is still keeping its “microblogging” mission statement, it seems, while Threads is happier to extend the amount of time you can spend ranting about cake or whatever’s dear to you.
Twitter lets you see trending topics
Right now, Threads doesn’t let you see anything other than your home feed. Here, you’ll see posts from people and brands you’re following, but you won’t see anything else. Twitter, by contrast, offers the chance to see trending topics and explore things that might interest you. It’s not clear whether Threads intends to incorporate trending topics into its feed, although we can assume that it will eventually have this feature if it really wants to compete with Twitter.
Threads has no ads…yet
As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve spent any amount of time scrolling through Instagram, Meta’s app has quite a lot of ads and sponsored posts. This feature isn’t yet present in Threads, although given that Instagram is heavy with ads, we can assume that they will eventually debut in Threads as well. Twitter, naturally, has plenty of ads as well; for many platforms, including ads is necessary if they want to keep account creation free, and so it may not be long before they start appearing in Threads too.
Twitter has a desktop client
This is one that may or may not be a dealbreaker for you individually, depending on where you like to use your social media. Twitter has a desktop client that you can access from your desktop PC or laptop, whereas Threads is only available via mobile devices. This makes Threads more akin to Instagram (appropriately enough) than Twitter, although a desktop experience may be somewhere on Meta’s list of features to add later down the line. Given that Instagram doesn’t have the best desktop presence, though, we wouldn’t bet on it ourselves.