Threads, Instagram's Twitter-like social media network, hits 30 million users on its first day even though it kinda sucks right now

Threads logo
(Image credit: STEFANI REYNOLDS (Getty Images))

Threads, the new Twitter-like social network from Instagram/Facebook/Meta, went live yesterday afternoon, and it's already off to a hell of a start. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said via his own Threads account that the platform racked up 30 million signups in its first 24 hours.

That number is just a fraction of the estimated 350+ million monthly active Twitter users there are, but it's a clear indication of interest in an alternative to Elon Musk's bottomless pit of foolishness and bungling. Threads' opening-day figure excludes a whole region, the  European Union, where Threads currently isn't available: Instagram boss Adam Mosseri told The Verge that it's holding off on releasing Threads in the EU because of "the complexities with complying with some of the laws coming into effect next year." That's presumably a reference to the EU's new Digital Markets Act, which will impose more stringent regulatory requirements on Google, Amazon, Apple, TikTok, Meta, Microsoft, and Samsung.

(Image credit: Mark Zuckerberg (Threads))

There are two obvious reasons for Threads' immediate success: reach and ease of use. Mastodon is a tech-tangled pain in the ass, and access to Bluesky is tightly limited by its invitation system: You can't get in unless you know somebody who's already onboard. But all you need for Threads is residence in an eligible country and an Instagram account. And it's Zuck—it's Facebook! Or Instagram, for the slightly younger crowd (ie, not me). That's unparalleled brand recognition and a built-in audience that just is not available to anyone else.

So Threads came out strong and didn't implode—but is it good? Well, no. It works, and that gives it at least a transient leg up on Twitter, but it's also extremely bare-bones. There's no direct messaging or hashtags, only rudimentary search functionality, no desktop or web-based app, and most inexplicably, no option to limit your feed to only the people you follow: Instead, it's just a slurry of corporations, celebrities, influencers, and assorted randos blasted into your eyeballs.

I haven't used Threads a lot at this point, but so far I don't recall seeing a single person I actually know: It's all Spotify, hockey, 6ixbuzzTV (whatever the hell that is), Mr Beast and Jacksepticeye, Complex, the LA Times, Shaq, something called StockSharks—none of whom I have slightest bit of interest in, and even if I did, they're saying nothing interesting. At this early stage it's all just an overt grind for engagement.

The Stars Are Here

But that's also what gives Threads an immediate edge over competing platforms. High-profile celebs and business accounts appear to be flooding the platform in ways that Mastodon and Bluesky can only dream about. Here, for instance, is Richard Branson posting pictures of his wife:

(Image credit: Richard Branson (Threads))

Here's Jacksepticeye offering/threatening to post a picture of his balls:

(Image credit: Jacksepticeye (Threads))

Shaq announces his presence:

(Image credit: Shaquille O'Neal (Threads))

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith has thoughts:

(Image credit: Stephen A. Smith (Threads))

Here's the Ottawa Senators, desperately seeking attention:

(Image credit: Ottawa Sentors (Threads))

AOC is in, of course:

(Image credit: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Threads))

Marvel dropped what may be the most immediately irritating post I've seen so far:

(Image credit: Marvel (Threads))

And here's Pubity, summing up the mood of the moment:

(Image credit: Pubity (Threads))

And yes, the videogame industry is also making its presence felt. Activision, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Rockstar Games, Electronic Arts, Riot Games, and Devolver Digital all have accounts: They're all pretty much devoid of content right now, but the fact that they've committed on day one speaks volumes. 

So if you're chasing clout, or just want to follow (or yell at) famous people or your favorite game dev, Threads is definitely the place to be right now. That may be why, despite the fact that its current    condition is really not great, people seem inclined to give it a chance. There are currently no fewer than four subreddits dedicated to Threads—ThreadsApp, ThreadsApp_, threadsByInstagram, and MetaThreads—and while people are clearly aware of the platform's shortcomings, the prevailing attitude seems to be that the current negative state of Threads is, as redditor MorukDilemma put it, due to its "quick reaction to the Twitter shithousery," and that it will get better in short order.

Deeper Concerns

But concerns about Threads go way beyond just its half-assed functionality. Threads collects a tremendous amount of personal data about its users (ranging from name and address to sexual orientation, "political or religious beliefs," browsing history, photos and audio recordings, and a whole lot more), and once you're in, the way out is the internet equivalent of a dead man's switch: the only way to delete it is to delete your entire Instagram account. Maybe it's naive to expect a more judicious approach to privacy from the company that gave us Facebook, but as awareness and concerns about how our personal data is harvested and used by tech giants continues to grow, this stands as a stark example of just how deep they can dig for this stuff.

Via the Google Play store page, here's the full list of data that Threads can sniff through:

(Image credit: Google Play)

Even setting aside that intrusiveness, though, my brief experience with Threads has convinced me that the whole thing is just entirely unnecessary. If Meta develops an effective moderation system that keeps out the grifters, Nazi wannabes, and other assorted bottom-feeders, I may change my mind and go all-in on Threads, and if Twitter crumbles completely I may not have a choice. But right now, despite its attention-grabbing first day, there's really just no good reason to bother with it.

Despite my personal lack of interest in it, the top brass at Twitter are showing signs of worry. The rollout of Mastodon and Bluesky both went largely ignored, but Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino obliquely commented on Threads shortly before it launched, saying Twitter is often imitated but "the Twitter community can never be duplicated."

(Image credit: Linda Yaccarino (Twitter))

Twitter owner Elon Musk was somewhat less circumspect.

(Image credit: Elon Musk (Twitter))
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.