By Martin Coulter
(Reuters) -Meta Platforms plans to launch a Twitter-rivalling microblogging app called Threads, days after Twitter boss Elon Musk attracted criticism by announcing a temporary cap on how many posts users can read on the social media site.
Threads is expected to be released on Thursday and will allow users to retain followers from photo-sharing platform Instagram, and keep the same username, a listing on Apple’s App Store showed.
The rollout represents a direct challenge to Twitter, which has faced numerous controversies since Musk bought the company for $44 billion in 2022.
Last week, the Tesla billionaire announced a slate of new restrictions on the app, limiting the number of tweets users could view per day, prompting outcry from many on the platform.
While alternative microblogging sites – such as Mastodon and Blue Sky – have seen an uptick in user numbers since Musk’s acquisition, neither has been able to challenge Twitter.
But Instagram already has hundreds of millions of registered users and has a history of introducing new features based on the success of other social media firms.
In 2016, it added a feature called “stories” to Instagram, or user posts that disappear after a fixed amount of time, in response to the rising popularity of Snapchat.
More recently, the company’s short-form video feature “Reels” has sought to challenge the rise of TikTok.
The launch of Threads represents a credible threat to Twitter under Musk.
“Threads is going to pose a huge threat to Twitter because it’s coming from the Meta and Instagram family of apps,” said Drew Benvie, CEO of social media consultancy Battenhall.
“Instagram has 2 billion users compared to around 250 million of Twitter, so it’s about ten times bigger already. If only one-in-ten Instagram users tries using Threads, it will overtake Twitter in the blink of an eye.”
After acquiring the company late last year, Musk laid off around 80% of staff and reinstated a number of banned accounts, such as those of former U.S. President Donald Trump and conservative satirical news site Babylon Bee.
Hundreds of advertisers, concerned by a perceived rise in harmful content on the platform, paused spending with Twitter, and internal documents seen by Reuters showed the platform’s most active users becoming disengaged.
Meta did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on a similar launch on the Google Play Store. Reuters approached Twitter for comment.
(Reporting by Martin Coulter in London, with Akanksha Khushi and Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru; Editing by David Holmes and Mark Potter)