Topics: What you should know about the Instagram “Twitter Killer”.

After months of speculation and secrecy, Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter rival app is here.

The new app, Threads, was unveiled on Wednesday as a companion to Instagram, the popular photo-sharing network that Mr. Zuckerberg’s company, Meta, bought more than a decade ago. If Instagram executives get their way, Topics will also replace rival Twitter, with some techs referring to it as the “Twitter killer.”

The launch of Thread has heightened competition between Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, who bought Twitter last year. Mr. Musk has changed the Twitter experience by tweaking its algorithm and other features, and recently imposing temporary limits on the number of tweets people can read when using the app, which has sparked outrage.

Several tech companies have tried to take advantage of Twitter’s disruption in recent months. But Topics has a foothold, buoyed by deep Meta pockets and Instagram’s massive user base of over 2 billion monthly active users worldwide.

“I think there should be a public conversations app with over 1 billion people in it,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a post on his Topics account on Wednesday. “Twitter had the opportunity to do that but it didn’t quite pan out. Hopefully we will.” is later He said The themes achieved 10 million subscriptions within seven hours of being launched.

Mr. Musk claimed it, saying he wasn’t impressed with the threads and claiming he had deactivated his Instagram account. “It’s infinitely better to be attacked by strangers on Twitter than to indulge in false happiness to hide your pain on Instagram,” he wrote. Twitter.

Here’s what you should know about threads.

Designed by Instagram, Themes is positioned as an app where people can have general, real-time conversations with each other. Themes also help promote Instagram, which is the Marquee app in Meta’s suite of products.

“We hope to build an open and friendly space for communities,” Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said in an interview.

Instagram linked threads closely with itself. Those interested in signing up for the new app must currently have an Instagram account. The user’s Instagram handle must also be their threads username.

And people will be able to import the list of people they follow on Instagram directly into threads if they want to. Instagram users approved on the new app will also be verified. Users can set their topic account to be private or public.

Threads looks almost identical to Twitter in many ways. Users can post mostly text messages to a scrolling feed, where people they follow and those they follow can reply. People can also post photos or videos on the app.

But threads are also different from Twitter. It does not currently support direct messaging, which is a feature offered by Twitter. Instagram said it may add features to Topics if new users request them.

Mr Mosseri said Instagram has made a concerted effort to streamline its app over the past few years. As part of that effort, he said, Themes has been switched to a separate app. This way, Instagram won’t be so crowded trying to make public conversations work within the existing app.

Mr Mosseri added that it was also hard to resist choosing to create a new app, particularly at a tumultuous moment in the social media landscape.

“There was an opportunity or a demand for more people to play in the public space,” he said, referring to the changes to Twitter under Mr. Musk’s leadership. Mr. Mosseri added that the opportunity to challenge Twitter came “not just because of ownership, but because of product changes and decisions” that Mr. Musk and others have made of how the social platform operates.

Instagram began its effort to take on Twitter late last year, as dozens of engineers, product managers, and designers pitched ideas for what a competing app could look like. Among the concepts Meta workers were talking about at the time were a more comprehensive rollout of a feature called Instagram Notes, where people can share short messages on the site, and a text-focused app using Instagram technology.

Ultimately, Mr Mosseri said, he and other managers decided they had to “bet” the messaging app and set out to build what became Themes.

Instagram’s goal is to eventually make threads work across multiple apps in what it calls Fediverse, short for a federated world of services that share communication protocols. Other apps like Mastodon, another social network, also work this way.

This may sound like a lot of technology talking. What that means, essentially, is that Instagram wants to make it easier for Topics to work seamlessly with other platforms, which could entice creators and influencers so they don’t have to start from scratch on every app.

If a creator builds up a large following on Topics, for example, they can ostensibly take those followers with them to other platforms built on the same technology. Mr Mosseri said that would make it less dangerous for creators and could free them from feeling “stuck” on one platform.

Zuckerberg’s Meta, which also owns Facebook and WhatsApp, has an extensive history of trying to eliminate its social media competitors, in part by copying their features. Mr. Zuckerberg is fiercely competitive and has always wanted a product that does what Twitter does.

This strategy does not always guarantee success. Facebook’s early attempts to clone its temporary messaging app Snapchat, for example, didn’t gain much initially.

However, Meta continued to imitate the competitors. In 2020, Meta released a TikTok copycat called Reels, which focuses on short videos and has since become widely used.

The themes are available to download for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in the US and nearly 100 other countries starting Wednesday. It has plans to expand further.

But Meta said the themes will not initially be available in the European Union, one of the company’s largest markets. A new EU law called the Digital Markets Act comes into effect in the coming months and limits how the biggest tech companies share data via services. Meta said it was waiting for more details on the implementation of the law before threading through the 27-nation bloc.

Adam Sattariano Contribute to the preparation of reports.