Threads vs. Twitter: What’s the Difference?
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Threads vs. Twitter: What’s the Difference?

The Instagram-linked app joins the crowded microblogging fray

By JOANNA STERN and Ann-Marie Alcántara
Fri, Jul 7, 2023 8:42amGrey Clock 5 min

If you’re wondering what it’s like to use the new Threads app, just close your eyes and picture Twitter but with a lot less Elon Musk—and that’s exactly the point.

Meta—owner of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp—on Wednesday launched its latest service, called Threads. While linked to Instagram (you even need an Instagram account to sign up for Threads), the new app’s primary focus is sharing short snippets of text. Users can post up to 500 characters or share videos up to five minutes long.

Welcome to Mark Zuckerberg’s new Metaverse. No virtual-reality spectacles or legless 3-D avatars here. Just good ol’ fashioned words…in a good ol’ fashioned social-media feed…on your good ol’ fashioned smartphone.

“There’s a hunger for something new,” Connor Hayes, Meta’s vice president of product, said in an interview. He added that public figures and creators have specifically been looking for an alternative to Twitter that “feels more productive and positive.”

Since Musk took over Twitter in October, the company has had numerous technical issues, changed its blue-check-mark verification policies and faced criticism from users and advertisers for how it moderates content. This past weekend, Musk limited how many posts users could see, saying he wants to combat “extreme levels of data scraping.”

That’s left a potential opening for competitors. There’s Mastodon, Bluesky, Spill. Is Threads any better than those? Are there privacy concerns—as with other Meta apps? Is it easy to set up and close a Threads account? Can Twitter actually be beaten?

Here are our answers and first impressions after using the app for the past day.

What is Threads? And how do I use it?

Threads is Meta’s latest social-media app, and this one directly takes on Twitter with short missives you can share with followers. It lets you post text, photos, links and videos.

Thanks to some serious Twitter copying and pasting, Threads is simple to use. Download the iOS or Android app and you’ll be prompted to log in with your Instagram account and fill out your Threads profile. You can choose to keep following the same people you follow on Instagram or pick just some of them—or none at all.

The Home tab includes a feed of posts. Tap the button with an abstract-looking paper and pen to compose a new Thread, and tap the paper clip icon to add a photo or video. You can mention other people by using the @ symbol in front of their usernames and “repost.”

The app is available in more than 100 countries, though not in the European Union.

Wait, I already have Instagram! Do I have to download a separate app?

You can’t join Threads without an Instagram account, but the new service operates as its own app. Do we really need another app on our phones? Nope, but here we are.

If you really don’t want to download another app, you can access the service from the website, similar to how you can use Instagram in a browser. Hayes said there are no plans right now for a dedicated Mac or Windows app.

I tried Threads and want to delete it. What happens to my Instagram account?

Because of the Instagram integration, setting up Threads is fast and easy. Quitting it—not so much. You can’t completely delete your Threads profile unless you also delete your Instagram account, the app’s privacy policy says.

If you really don’t want to use Threads but want to keep Instagram, you can deactivate your account, which hides your profile, Threads, replies and likes. Deactivating Threads doesn’t impact your Instagram account.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, on Thursday said that because Threads is powered by Instagram, it’s currently one account. “But we’re looking into a way to delete your Threads account separately,” he said on Threads.

What does Threads have that Twitter doesn’t?

On the surface Threads is a Twitter clone, but dig deeper and you can find some real differences:

  • Instagram integration: Because Threads is so closely linked to your Instagram account, you don’t have to start from scratch when it comes to finding your friends and others to follow. People you’ve blocked on Instagram will carry over, and you can share Threads to your Instagram Stories.
  • Decentralised support: Threads will be compatible with ActivityPub, a decentralised social-networking protocol—the same one used by Mastodon. What does that mean? It is “decentralised” because hosting of accounts, including people’s followers, can be done on independent servers, rather than those operated privately by a single company. This is the way Meta currently runs Facebook and Instagram. Ultimately, it could give users more freedom to take their followers and information when they leave the service, and allows you to view posts from other social-media networks that support the protocol. There’s no specific date when ActivityPub will roll out, Hayes said.
  • Rate limit: Twitter this past weekend limited the number of posts users can read to 600 a day for unverified accounts and 6,000 a day for those paying a monthly subscription fee. Threads imposes no limit or boundaries, whether you’re verified or not.
What does Twitter have that Threads doesn’t?

It takes just a few minutes of using Threads to see where Meta rushed things. “There are a bunch of features that are coming that weren’t quite ready for launch,” Hayes said.

Here are some features found on Twitter that we expect on Threads:

  • Follower feed: Right now there is just the one main algorithmic feed, which includes posts from people you follow and others that are popular on the service. You can’t see a feed of just the people you follow or a purely chronological feed.
  • Edit button: You cannot edit your posts after you’ve posted.
  • Character count: How are we supposed to know when we’re blabbing away when there’s no indicator that you’re nearing the 500-character limit?
  • Search: You can search for other accounts but not for words contained in posts. There is also no support for hashtags yet.
  • Direct messaging: You can’t send private messages through Threads. You’ll have to head back to Instagram for that.
  • Ads: There are no ads on Threads—at least for now. “The priority for this launch is to make the app as great as possible for consumers and creators,” Hayes said. “And we haven’t prioritised ads as a part of this.” (Translation: There will eventually be ads.)
Who is on Threads?

Well, us. (Follow WSJ hereJoanna here and Ann-Marie here!) But we certainly cannot sing like Shakira and Nick and Joe Jonas. Or act like Zooey Deschanel and Beanie Feldstein. Or tell jokes like Ellen DeGeneres and Jack Black. Or stream shows like Netflix or cook up burgers like Shake Shack. Or even take off into the skies like American Airlines. Big names and companies seem to be joining the service by the minute.

What about my privacy on Threads?

Check the Threads listing in the Apple App Store and you’ll see that Meta may collect loads of data from the app: Health & Fitness, Purchases, Financial Info, Location, Contacts…The list goes on.

Hayes said that list doesn’t give much context about why or under what circumstances that sort of data would be used. Instead, he pointed us to Threads’s two privacy policies: the Meta privacy policy and a new supplemental Threads-specific policy due to the coming ActivityPub integration. Threads also allows you to designate your account and your posts as public or private.

Still, this is Meta we’re talking about. If you have been a Facebook or Instagram user, it has built up quite a bit of data about you over the years. Expect this to just be another app that feeds into that.

Is this it? A real Twitter competitor?

It sure looks like the closest thing to it. Threads has an edge over most Twitter competitors because it uses Instagram to immediately build your following and populate your feed. Heck, in just the first four hours, it had over five million sign-ups, according to Zuckerberg’s own Thread. The app hit 30 million sign-ups as of Thursday morning, he posted.

But as Zuckerberg (or an actor playing him) was once famously told, sort of: “Thirty million sign-ups isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion sign-ups.”

(OK, that might not happen this week, but it’s probably what he’s aiming for.)


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Couples find that lab-grown diamonds make it cheaper to get engaged or upgrade to a bigger ring. But there are rocky moments.

Mon, Dec 11, 2023 4 min

Wedding planner Sterling Boulet has some advice for brides-to-be regarding lab-grown diamonds, which cost a fraction of the natural ones.

“If you’re trying to get your man to propose, they’ll propose faster if you offer this as an option,” says Boulet, of Raleigh, N.C. Recently, she adds, a friend’s fiancé “thanked me the next three times I saw him” for telling him about the cheaper lab-made option.

Man-made diamonds are catching on, despite some lingering stigma. This year was the first time that sales of lab-made and natural mined loose diamonds, primarily used as center stones in engagement rings, were split evenly, according to data from Tenoris, a jewellery and diamond trend-analytics company.

The rise of lab-made stones, however, is bringing up quirks alongside the perks. Now that blingier engagement rings—above two or three carats—are more affordable, more people are dealing with the peculiarities of wearing rather large rocks.

An engagement ring made with a lab-grown diamond at Ada Diamonds in New York City. PHOTO: CAM POLLACK/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Esther Hare, a 5-foot-11-inch former triathlete, sought out a 4.5-carat lab-made oval-shaped diamond to fit her larger hands as a part of her vow renewal in Hawaii last year. It was a far cry from the half-carat ring her husband proposed with more than 25 years ago and the 1.5-carat upgrade they purchased 10 years ago. Hare, 50, who lives in San Jose, Calif., and works in high tech, chose a $40,000 lab-made diamond because “it’s nuts” to have to spend $100,000 on a natural stone. “It had to be big—that was my vision,” she says.

But the size of the ring has made it less practical at times. She doesn’t wear it for athletic training and swaps in her wedding band instead. And she is careful to leave it at home when traveling. “A lot of times I won’t take it on vacation because it’s just a monster,” she says.

The average retail price for a one-carat lab-made loose diamond decreased to $1,426 this year from $3,039 in 2020, according to the Tenoris data. Similar-sized loose natural diamonds cost $5,426 this year, compared with $4,943 in 2020.

Lab-made diamonds have essentially the same chemical makeup as natural ones, and look the same, unless viewed through sophisticated equipment that gauges the characteristics of emitted light.

At Ritani, an online jewellery retailer, lab-made diamond sales make up about 70% of the diamonds sold, up from roughly 30% two years ago, says Juliet Gomes, head of customer service at the company, based in White Plains, N.Y.

Ritani sometimes records videos of the lab-diamonds pinging when exposed to a “diamond tester,” a tool that judges authenticity, to show customers that the man-made rocks behave the same as natural ones. We definitely have some deep conversations with them,” Gomes says.

Not all gem dealers are rolling with these stones.

Philadelphia jeweller Steven Singer only stocks the natural stuff in his store and is planning a February campaign to give about 1,000 one-carat lab-made diamonds away free to prove they are “worthless.” Anyone can sign up online and get one in the mail; even shipping is free. “I’m not selling Frankensteins that were built in a lab,” Singer says.

Some brides are turned off by the larger bling now allowed by the lower prices.When her now-husband proposed with a two-carat lab-grown engagement ring, Tiffany Buchert, 40, was excited about the prospect of marriage—but not about the size of the diamond, which she says struck her as “costume jewellery-ish.”

“I said yes in the moment, of course, I didn’t want it to be weird,” says the physician assistant from West Chester, Pa.

But within weeks, she says, she fessed up, telling her fiancé: “I think I hate this ring.”

The couple returned it and then bought a one-carat natural diamond for more than double the price.

Couples find that lab-grown diamonds have made it more affordable to get engaged. PHOTO: CAM POLLACK/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

When Boulet, the wedding planner in Raleigh, got engaged herself, she was over the moon when her fiancé proposed with a 2.3 carat lab-made diamond ring. “It’s very shiny, we were almost worried it was too shiny and was going to look fake,” she says.

It doesn’t, which presents another issue—looking like someone who really shelled out for jewellery. Boulet will occasionally volunteer that her diamond ring came from a lab.

“I don’t want people to think I’m putting on airs, or trying to be flashier than I am,” she says.

For Daniel Teoh, a 36-year-old software engineer outside of Detroit, buying a cheaper lab-made diamond for his fiancée meant extra room in his $30,000 ring budget.

Instead of a bigger ring, he got her something they could both enjoy. During a walk while on an annual ski trip to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Teoh popped the question and handed his now-wife a handmade wooden box that included a 2.5-carat lab-made diamond ring—and a car key.

She put on the ring, celebrated with both of their sisters and a friend, who was the unofficial photographer of the happy event, and then they drove back to the house. There, she saw a 1965 Mustang GT coupe in Wimbledon white with red stripes and a bow on top.

Looking back, Teoh says, it was still the diamond that made the big first impression.

“It wasn’t until like 15 minutes later she was like ‘so, what’s with this key?’” he adds.


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