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Instagram rivals Twitter with lunch of thread

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Instagram’s highly anticipated Twitter rival is expected to launch Thursday, according to a listing on Apple Inc.’s App Store.

The app, called Threads, will function similarly to Twitter, with text-based posts that can be liked, commented on, and shared, according to examples of screenshots on the App Store listing. People will be able to follow the accounts they follow on Instagram and keep their same user name. Instagram, owned by Meta Platforms Inc., declined to comment.

With the launch, Meta is seeking to take advantage of Twitter’s problems since the social media service was taken over last year by Elon Musk. Among the issues that have angered users, and spurred them to seek alternative platforms, are Twitter’s loosening content moderation policies, and requiring a monthly subscription fee to be labeled as an authentic account. There are also problems with site reliability. On Saturday, Twitter began temporarily limiting the number of posts users can see. 

Twitter’s existing rivals, such as Mastodon and Bluesky, are more nascent and haven’t yet built their networks to be viable alternatives. Instagram has been touting its forthcoming app with various celebrities and influencers for months, aiming to generate a buzz when it launches.

The app is available for “pre-order” and is “expected” on Thursday, according to the App Store listing. There, Threads is described as “where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today, to what’ll be trending tomorrow.”

Meta has a long history of borrowing ideas from competitors — and it hasn’t always worked out. But when the company’s copycat products succeed, they can catch on quickly. The feature for posts that disappear after 24 hours, called “stories,” was copied from Snapchat in 2016. Now, far more people use that format on Meta’s apps than use Snapchat. Meta more recently made a short-video product similar to TikTok, called “reels.” In earnings calls, company executives have said reels are driving growth on both Instagram and Facebook.

More than 3 billion people daily used at least one of Meta’s apps — Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — in the first quarter of the year, the company reported in April.

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