Threads has the best chance to replace Twitter, but missing features could derail it

Meta’s Threads looks to be Twitter’s most credible challenger yet. When it launched, the service—built by the team behind Instagram—garnered over 30 million new users, with that number tripling over the weekend.

That Threads looks to be the biggest threat to Twitter should come as no surprise. The services comes with a few advantages that other micro-blogging services, such as Mastodon, do not. It’s not a fractured collection of several servers for one, making it less confusing to get on board. (Read: Mastodon is not Twitter, and it has enough differences that we should pay attention)

However, there service as it is also has more than a few missing features—features that, should they not be added soon, could derail Threads’ growth.

Connections with other networks is a strength

Thread’s biggest strength is its connection to Instagram. This isn’t because it means being part of one of the biggest tech companies in the world—take note I didn’t state Meta.

The Instagram connection means that any new Threads users will be able to carry over their Instagram followers to the new site—provided they have an existing Instagram account. This means that new Threads users coming from Instagram don’t have to start from scratch.

This feature obviously benefits personalities, influencers and creators who’ve already built a large audience on Instagram. These are also the people most likely to benefit from Threads’ growth. The Twitter-pioneered micro-blogging model of every reply to a tweet (or thread in Threads parlance) being its own individual, publicly sharable reply is much more conducive to building influence on the internet after all.

That said, the ability to import Instagram followers and contacts benefits even those who aren’t out to become influencers or build clout. It flat out makes starting out on the site much easier since it takes away the need for someone to find all their friends and family on the site. If these were already following them on Instagram, they’re following them on Threads.

Beyond Instagram, Threads also promises connectivity with the “fediverse.” A portmanteau of “federation” and “universe,” this is the same interconnected network of micro-blogging services that Mastodon runs on. This means that users on Threads have the ability to reach out and connect with users on those networks as well—something Twitter lacks.

That said, Threads isn’t connected to the fediverse yet, though Meta says it will happen soon.

Missing key features could derail momentum

Fediverse integration isn’t the only feature that’s missing from Threads a the moment. A number of key features that Twitter has are currently not yet in the Threads app.

Currently, Threads only has one feed that’s heavily based on its own algorithm. There’s no way to only display threads from those a user follows, let alone chronologically. In addition, Threads lacks the ability to search for specific topics or hashtags. The services’ search option is currently only limited to searching for other Threads users.

Combined with the lack of a list of trending topics, this makes it nigh impossible for Threads users to view any threads about specific topics and join in on the conversation. Without these, Threads becomes less attractive to users looking to stay in touch with trending topics and current events. This is especially important for people and organizations looking to monitor their social presence for public relations purposes.

That said, it also makes Threads less attractive for people such as independent journalists, online activists and other individuals who may need to monitor certain topics online.

Beyond all this, however, there’s one big item that Threads lacks—a web-based interface. Unlike Twitter, Threads can currently only be accessed through its app. While this may seem like a small inconvenience for those who primarily access their social media through their phones, it’s a big issue for anyone who prefers or even needs to do so on a computer via a browser.

This especially affects creators such as artists, video creators, video game streamers, and the like who may be using computers as their primary means of creation.  Getting their content onto Threads now requires extra steps compared to Twitter (or even Mastodon).

That Threads is missing these key features almost makes it feel like the Instagram team rushed its release to capitalize on Twitter’s recent missteps under Elon Musk. As of late, the service has blocked unregistered users from viewing tweets and limited the number of tweets users can view per day.

In light of these, it makes sense for Meta to launch Threads as a Twitter alternative, especially with its aforementioned advantages. That said, the built-in advantage that Threads has is wasted if the service itself is missing key features that Twitter has.

If Meta really does want Threads to become a true alternative to Twitter, then it should look to implement these features sooner rather than later.

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Franz Co

managing editor | addicted to RGB | plays too many fighting games

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