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    Meta’s Instagram takes on Twitter with rival Threads app

    While Twitter announced unpopular new rules that set daily limits on the number of tweets users can read in a day, Instagram teased an alternative app, Threads, due to be released Thursday.

    The new Meta-owned platform, which is billing itself as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app,” appeared on Apple’s App Store with no accompanying details other than a simple countdown website in its name.

    Threads appears to share many functional similarities to Twitter. According to its App Store profile, it promises users the ability to “share your point of view” through text or image-based posts known as “threads,” which people can react and reply to, and share. Many of the app’s features appear to be closely integrated with Instagram, according to preview screenshots, providing users with the option to log in through their Instagram handle, keep their username and follow the same accounts.

    “Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things,” Threads’s App Store listing said. It also promised users the ability to “build a loyal following” and “share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.”

    In an email Tuesday, Meta declined to provide further information about the app. But earlier this year, Meta said it was exploring the creation of a stand-alone text-based social media network where “creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”

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    The launch of Threads follows announcements over the weekend by Elon Musk, who bought Twitter in October, limiting the app’s functionality for many users. Last week, he announced that the platform would temporarily limit the number of tweets that users could read per day, and unveiled a “temporary emergency measure” that prevented non-logged-in users from viewing tweets on the platform’s web browser. He said they were to prevent third-party computer programs from combing the platform for data, saying: “We were getting data pillaged so much that it was degrading service for normal users!”

    On Monday, Twitter announced a further change: Access to its TweetDeck platform — which provides users with an enhanced interface for viewing multiple tweets at once — would be limited to paying users starting soon.

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    Meta has also been grappling with issues of its own in recent months. Threads’s scheduled launch on Thursday comes as the company embarks on a large-scale downsizing effort, eliminating 21,000 roles, including teams that handle content moderation, policy and regulatory issues. Like other tech giants, Meta is facing an industry-wide downturn — and increased competition from TikTok.

    On Monday night, Musk responded to a tweet about Meta’s release of Threads by quipping: “Thank goodness they’re so sanely run.” He also responded to posts that highlighted the lengthy list of personal data that users will be required to grant Instagram access to use the app, according to its App Store profile.

    Meta and Twitter’s commercial battle for users has been echoed by an increasingly public personal rivalry between the two men at their helms. Last month, Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg accepted a challenge from Musk to take part in a cage match at a Las Vegas arena after news reports on Meta’s Twitter competitor. It’s unclear whether the fight — announced as Zuckerberg increasingly tries to make himself look more relevant to the tech elite — will actually take place.

    Meta’s decision to launch Threads pits it against other companies also trying to lure users away from Twitter with alternative social networks.

    Mastodon’s open-source decentralized model, which was founded seven years ago, saw a large influx of new users in the immediate aftermath of Musk’s Twitter takeover. Bluesky, which also runs on a decentralized system, was launched by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and is in beta stage. Unlike Twitter, the platform says it intends to give users more control over their feed by allowing them to select from a variety of recommendation algorithms to curate their experience.

    Meta is no stranger to launching its own versions of innovations pioneered by rival apps — often with success. In 2016, Instagram copied Snapchat’s disappearing-photo feature, launching Stories, an offering that has since become integral to its user experience. Four years later, Instagram unveiled Reels, allowing users to create and share short-form vertical videos, just like TikTok.

    Naomi Nix contributed to this report.



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