Is Threads Really The New Twitter? Here's How It Does (& Doesn't) Stack Up

It's been a wild ride for social media users over the past year, from Reddit's API controversy to Elon Musk's Twitter takeover. Although Twitter still attracts its share of daily visitors, a growing number of Twitter users have expressed disdain for its new policy changes. "Elon Musk managed to destroy Twitter in five months of owning it," wrote one user.

There have been many proposed substitutes to take Twitter's throne, including platforms like Mastodon, but none have quite managed to successfully replace the little blue bird. That all changed on July 5 when Mark Zuckerberg's Meta launched Threads, a text-based social media app with mighty potential to be the next big Twitter alternative.

The arrival of Threads comes at a contentious time for Twitter. In July 2023, Musk put limitations on the number of Tweets that can be viewed in a single day, leading to outrage from the Twitter community. Thus, it seems like a perfect moment for an app like Threads to step in and meet the needs of millions of disgruntled Twitter users. But how does the newly-established Threads compare to Twitter? Ahead, we'll break down the key differences between the two social media giants to help you determine whether or not to make the switch.

If you use Instagram already, it's an easy switch

If you were hoping to nab a snazzy new username in Threads' infancy, you may be disappointed. That's because Threads is connected to your existing Instagram account — meaning your old Instagram username will transfer over to the new platform. But don't feel too defeated by username woes. The seamless integration with Instagram means that Threads presents ample opportunity to expand your existing social media presence in a new way.

That said, there's plenty of room for new friends on Threads. According to Zuckerberg, 10 million users signed up with Threads within the first several hours of its debut. By engaging with its burgeoning user base during its early days, you can establish a solid rapport with a plethora of creators and companies. Still, there's no need to worry about FOMO if you haven't signed up for Threads just yet. The rapidly-increasing number of Threads users — 72 million at the time of writing — suggests we're still in the early stages of witnessing a new social media boom. As such, there's no better time than the present to join in on the fun and make your mark.

Threads allows users to say more without cost

One of the downsides of Twitter is its short format, originally based on SMS texting caps of 140 characters per tweet. Later, this was increased to allow tweets as long as 280 characters. Threads is built to allow for far longer text-based posts — ironically, without having to 'thread' lengthy posts as wordy Twitter users often do. 

It's worth pointing out that Twitter Blue users can post longer tweets without any trouble. In fact, Twitter Blue subscribers can tweet a staggering 25,000 characters per tweet if they wish. However, Threads isn't forcing its users to cough up cash in order to post to their heart's content. At the time of writing, Threads' limit is an impressive 500 characters per post. Obviously, this is a major advantage over Twitter, as many users feel pushed away by its increasing focus on paid features. "Who needs to pay 600 bucks for a blue check when Threads offers no limit on their characters," wrote one Twitter user. Another perk of using Threads? It allows users to post videos up to five minutes long, versus Twitter's cap of two minutes and twenty seconds.

Threads hopes to establish a more positive community

One reason why former Twitter fans are migrating to Threads in droves? Twitter's changing environment under Musk's leadership hasn't necessarily been for the best. Initial controversies about Musk were based on his apparent opposition to censorship, which opened the door to hate speech and offensive content which had previously violated Twitter's terms of use. Fed up with increasingly toxic content, many former Twitter users are hopeful that Threads may serve as a more peaceful online meeting place.

In the first few hours after Threads was unveiled, this sentiment was widely shared by countless new users. "May this platform have good vibes, strong community, excellent humor, and less harassment," wrote Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a Threads post. But, just as you might imagine, not every Twitter user is impressed by Threads' wholesome energy. "If you want peace and easy convos go to Threads. But if you're bored and want juicy and toxic rants, stay here on Twitter," wrote one Twitter user. Only time will tell whether Threads can uphold its shining reputation, but it seems to be making a positive impression for now.

There are some downsides to using Threads

Despite the initial enthusiasm for Threads, there are a few glaring drawbacks to be aware of before hopping aboard. Some users have noticed glitches in the app that can lead to disastrous outcomes between their linked accounts. "Instagram locked me out of both my Threads account and Instagram," lamented one Twitter user. But perhaps the most noticeable con to using Threads? You won't be sliding into someone's DMs anytime soon. Unlike Twitter, Threads does not offer any type of direct messaging, although this may be subject to change.

Others are keen to point out the potential for security concerns on Threads, as Meta has a somewhat shady history in terms of protecting users' privacy. From sharing personal information to data scandals, Facebook and Meta have landed in hot water several times. Although Musk's Twitter has garnered criticism for its privacy practices, the app collects significantly fewer data points than Threads. In contrast to Twitter, Threads collects sensitive user data points, including health and fitness information. If you're using apps such as Facebook or Instagram, however, you'll already have shared this information with Meta.

Some Twitter users are sorry to say goodbye

The biggest problem with other alternatives to Twitter so far has been the inability of large groups to migrate to one site. But with sizable numbers of social media users making the switch to Threads seemingly overnight, there's speculation that the new Meta app could be Twitter's downfall. Even Twitter itself has ruffled feathers over the ordeal, with Musk tweeting, "Competition is fine, cheating is not" in response to Threads' launch. Moreover, Musk quickly filed a lawsuit against Meta, alleging the platform had stolen Twitter trade secrets.

Twitter was a mainstay of late 2000s and 2010s internet culture. It offered users a way to interact with celebrities directly, led to the birth of many memes, and served as a breaking news source for millions. Although many feel the need to exit the Twitterverse due to recent policy changes, it can still feel upsetting to leave all those memories behind. "I'll still be using Twitter, purely for nostalgia," tweeted one user. It may be too soon to know whether Threads is the next Twitter, but it will be interesting to see how the two social media platforms progress going forward.