Threads users must delete their Instagram to quit the app


The rivalry between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk is heating up — and they haven’t even started their cage fight yet.

Meta, the parent company of Instagram, is taking aim at Twitter with its new social media app Threads, a microblogging platform that links to your IG account. But be careful setting up your profile — you won’t be able to delete it without also torching your Instagram.

In its first seven hours, Threads recorded 10 million new sign ups, Meta CEO Zuckerberg posted to his verified account Thursday morning on the fledgling social media.

The night before the launch, Zuckerberg also tweeted for the first time in over a decade, sharing the famous meme of Spider-Man pointing at himself — alluding to Threads’ similarities and rivalry with Twitter.

What is Instagram’s Threads app?

Threads is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Android Play Store. A desktop version is not yet available.

It markets itself as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app.” Its layout is nearly identical to Twitter’s, but with the option to keep your Instagram username as well as the accounts you already follow.

Screenshots showing Meta's new Threads app. The app links to Instagram, allowing users to keep their old username and the accounts they follow.

That said, there are slight differences — Threads allows for posts up to 500 characters long, while unpaid Twitter accounts only allow 280. Similarly, Threads users can upload videos up to five minutes long, while a base Twitter account is limited to two minutes and 20 seconds. These posts can then be shared to one’s Instagram story.

Users can deactivate their accounts at any time — but according to Threads’ supplemental privacy policy: “Your Threads profile can only be deleted by deleting your Instagram account.”

Meta says it’s because it views Threads as a service provided by Instagram and “part of the Instagram platform.”

Threads has launched in over 100 countries for iOS and Android; in the near-future, the app will receive updates including improved recommendations and a more robust search function, said a spokesperson for Meta.

Threads will (eventually) be decentralized

Meta is also working to make the app compatible with decentralized social networking protocol ActivityPub, the spokesperson continued. Once this is complete, Threads users can follow people on other sites supporting ActivityPub, like WordPress and Mastodon; vice versa, Threads content will be available to these other sites as well, should the creator choose it.

Should you decide to stop using Threads, you can choose to transfer your content to these other platforms as well, once this feature is complete.

“Threads is Meta’s first app envisioned to be compatible with an open social networking protocol,” the spokesperson said. “We hope that by joining this fast-growing ecosystem of interoperable services, Threads will help people find their community, no matter what app they use.

Turbulence at Twitter

Threads’ announcement comes during another bout of turbulence at Twitter. On Saturday, the latter implemented “temporary” limits on the amounts of tweets users can see, in response to “extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation,” Twitter boss Musk said in a post.

Verified, paid accounts have access to 10,000 posts every day, while unpaid accounts can see just 1,000 and new unverified accounts 500. Twitter becomes effectively unusable after this limit is reached.

Another recent update will bar the app’s popular Tweetdeck feature for anyone who isn’t verified, apparently aimed at driving up revenue for its paid verification system.

In the time since Musk purchased the company last year, Twitter has started charging people a monthly subscription to be verified. It also laid off a majority of its workforce, loosened rules against hate speech, hiked prices by tens of thousands of dollars for API access and more.

Meta has been brainstorming how to take advantage of the chaos at Twitter since last year; in an internal post, one employee wrote: “Twitter is in crisis and Meta needs its mojo back,” according to the New York Times. “LET’S GO FOR THEIR BREAD AND BUTTER.”

Meta executives reportedly called their product a “sanely run” version of a social network, an apparent jab at Musk’s recent performance. Musk later commented: “Thank goodness they’re so sanely run” in response to Threads’ bloated data collection policy.

Threads and collecting personal data

In keeping with Meta’s reputation for harvesting users’ personal information, Threads’ privacy policy will enable the app access to data around one’s financial info, personal info, photos, location, contacts, search history, “sensitive info” and much more.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey highlighted the app’s data policy in a tweet, commenting: “All your Threads are belong to us.” Musk replied to the tweet with a simple: “Yeah.”

Threads will be competing against a tide of Twitter-like social media platforms from Mastodon to ex-president Donald Trump’s Truth Social, as well as Twitter itself.

These Twitter-like apps have surged in popularity following Twitter’s recent troubles; over the weekend, Mastodon CEO Eugen Rochko said the platform’s number of active users grew by over 294,000 and posting activity “roughly tripled.”

Similarly, Dorsey’s new app to rival Twitter, “Bluesky,” said it saw “record traffic” over the weekend after Musk limited the number of tweets users can see.

But Threads isn’t starting from nothing like many of its rivals. It’s got the resources, experience and name recognition of Meta backing it, plus compatibility with Instagram to draw users in.

Will Threads be the “Twitter killer” as some online observers are predicting?

Only time will tell.


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