Instagram's Twitter killer ready to launch, and here's why Elon Musk should be afraid

Threads is sitting in the app stores and should launch on either Thursday or Friday

Threads on Apple App Store
(Image credit: Rik Henderson / Future)

Threads, the Instagram-powered Twitter rival, will finally launch this week.

If you visit the Threads website you can scan a QR code that'll take you to your device's App Store and, according to the Apple listing, it's expected to launch on 6 July. When it does, it could do devastating damage to Elon Musk's Twitter.

Threads uses your existing Instagram login and can connect to your existing Instagram followers, but it's a separate app for Twitter-style conversations. It looks and works very like Instagram, but in the long term, it'll enable you to connect to other social networks, such as Mastodon (something a lot of Mastodon users aren't too happy about).

That bit will be optional though, and you'll be able to limit your posts so that they're only seen by other Threads users if you prefer.

Threads poses an existential threat to Twitter in a way that the likes of BlueSky and Mastodon currently don't. Here's why.

Why Threads is the app Elon Musk should be scared of

Twitter is allegedly bleeding money, and Elon Musk's recent moves – such as making the Tweetdeck app subscriber-only and limiting how many posts non-subscribers can read – are proving unpopular to say the least. 

New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino's main job is to make the social network look great to advertisers, and the launch of Threads throws a massive Meta-made spanner right into the middle of that.

Twitter is still enormously reliant on ad revenue, and so far Bluesky, Mastodon and the rest don't threaten that. In many cases, they don't even want to.

However, Meta, Instagram's parent, knows a thing or two about selling ads to the world's biggest spenders, and if it can persuade them to switch from Twitter to Threads that could deliver a body blow that could prove near-fatal for the ailing network. 

There's a lot of discussion online about whether Meta is the right company to offer a Twitter alternative, and I think a lot of that discussion is missing the point. Right now, it looks like Meta is the only company that can offer a bone fide Twitter alternative. 

Twitter has a massive user base, many of whom want to ditch the service, and the current alternatives lack the scale to handle them – Bluesky, the current next big thing, had to pause sign-ups at the weekend to cope with potential new users, and that was just a tiny fraction of the Twitter user base.

Current rivals also often lack features that users expect, such as nice user interfaces or features such as private messaging. 

That's not to say they're not great services, or that people won't dump Twitter for them. But, none of them is a Twitter killer, or likely to be in the near future.

So it's fitting that here in the UK, Threads shares its name with a famously frightening drama about nuclear apocalypse. And, if this turns out to be as polished and welcoming as it looks, it's going to drop a bomb right in the middle of Twitter's income stream.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (