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Tens of millions sign up to Twitter rival Threads

Singers Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, basketball player Stephen Curry, creator Pharrell Williams and talk show icon Oprah Winfrey have already joined Threads and posted several messages. —AFP
Singers Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, basketball player Stephen Curry, creator Pharrell Williams and talk show icon Oprah Winfrey have already joined Threads and posted several messages. —AFP

NEW YORK: Instagram owner Meta has launched its new social media network Threads, aiming to capitalise on the turmoil at Twitter under billionaire owner Elon Musk, foreign media reported.

“Let’s do this,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Wednesday in a post welcoming users to the site. “Welcome to Threads.”

“I think the world needs this kind of friendly community,” Zuckerberg said in a separate post on Instagram after the app went live. “And I’m grateful to all of you who are part of Threads from day one.”

Zuckerberg later on Wednesday wrote on Threads that the new platform had attracted more than 10 million sign-ups in the seven hours after it went live.

Billed as a text-based version of Instagram for “real-time updates and public conversations,” the app will be initially available in more than 100 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.

Threads will not initially be offered in the European Union amid negotiations between Meta and regulators over how to manage data sharing between the app and Instagram.

British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, actor Jack Black and pop star Shakira were among the first celebrities to join the site.

Zuckerberg’s launch of the platform dubbed a “Twitter killer” by some tech analysts is seen as a direct challenge to Musk, whose stewardship of Twitter has been heavily criticised by some users and is likely to fuel the rivalry between the billionaire tech leaders.

Meta chief product officer Chris Cox last month told a company event that there was a demand for a “platform that is sanely run”, according to The Verge, prompting Musk to suggest a cage match with Zuckerburg, who has competed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Zuckerburg replied to Musk’s challenge on Instagram, writing: “Send Me Location”.

Meta’s bid to take on Twitter comes after months of turmoil at the social media company – including mass layoffs, technical glitches and controversy over moderation – that has prompted advertisers to flee the platform. Some analysts believe that Threads, which users can access via their existing Instagram accounts, could benefit from the popular photo-sharing app’s large user base and ties to advertisers. Still, previous efforts to challenge Twitter have had limited success.

Twitter alternatives such as Mastodon, Bluesky and Post have so far failed to match the reach of the influential micro-blogging site, which has more than 400 million users worldwide.

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