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Meta's "Twitter killer" app Threads is here – and you can get a cheat code to download it

Meta targets Twitter with rival app Threads
Meta releases Threads, long-awaited app linked to Instagram 02:17

Meta late Wednesday debuted a social media app called Threads that the social media giant describes as "Instagram's text-based conversation app."

The new service, which looks set to compete with Twitter, launched a day early in Apple's App Store. Originally, the app had been scheduled for release on July 6.

Threads has a similar appearance to Twitter, allowing users to post messages, as well as like, reply to and repost other people's messages. Instagram users can immediately click to follow the same accounts on Threads, which could help users quickly build large follower bases. 

Meta also introduced cheat codes on Instagram to allow people to sign up for a download ahead of time, teasing the release to its billions of users.

In a post on Threads, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the new service has signed up 10 million users within 7 hours.

Meta's Instagram is readying a Twitter-like service, which will be available for download on July 6.  Aimee Picchi

Threads arrives at a critical moment for Twitter, whose owner Elon Musk has been making changes to the social network that have driven away advertisers and alienated some users. Musk's recent decision to throttle usage for some nonpaying members, limiting free accounts to reading 600 tweets per day, sparked intense backlash.

On social media, some users are referring to Threads as a "Twitter killer" because of the expectation that many people will migrate away from Twitter in favor of the new social media service. 

How do I get a cheat code?

The cheat codes are "Thread" or "Threads," which you enter into the search box in Instagram.

When you do that, a red "Admit One" ticket will appear on your screen and then move to your search box. If you click on the ticket, it will take you to a website with a countdown clock (which ends on July 5 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time). There's also a QR code.

If you scan the QR code, it will take you to the download page for the app on Apple store.

Is this Meta's Twitter clone?

The app is billed as an Instagram service, but the service functions more like Twitter than its video- and photo-driven platform parent.

Threads is billed as a place where you can "follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things."

The Threads app appears to allow users to "like" a post, reply to it or repost it, according to images on Apple's App Store. Aimee Picchi

In some ways, it has a similar interface as Twitter, enabling users to "like," "reply" or repost other people's messages.

But the service also has some differences. For instance, Threads doesn't employ hashtags, a popular method on Twitter and Instagram to find topics of interest. It also doesn't allow people to directly message each other, unlike Twitter and Instagram.

Where is Threads available?

The app is available for download in Apple's App Store and in the Google Play store.

Can I use my Instagram username? 

Yes, the Threads app says you will be able to "keep your username."

A screenshot of Meta's Threads, available for pre-order on Apple's App store, indicates that people will be able to keep their Instagram followers on the new service. Aimee Picchi

Are there privacy issues? 

Meta has been dinged in the past for its privacy policies, with the FTC most recently claiming Facebook misled parents and failed to protect the privacy of children using its Messenger Kids app.

Already, some critics have pointed out that Threads may collect an awful lot of information about its members. In its App Privacy description on the Apple AppStore, Threads provides a laundry list of personal data it may collect on users, including:

  • Health and fitness
  • Financial information
  • Contacts
  • Browsing history
  • Purchases
  • Location
  • Sensitive information
Some critics have pointed out that it appears Threads will track a large amount of user data, including sensitive information such as financial information and contacts. Aimee Picchi

Could Threads hurt Twitter? 

Some Twitter users are expressing enthusiasm about the new Meta product on social media. 

Meta's new social media app could lure consumers away from Twitter by providing a free service without the issues that are now overhanging Musk's tech company. Since Musk bought Twitter last year, the platform has seen a spike in hate speech and was rated by the advocacy group GLAAD as the worst social-media service for protecting LGBTQ+ users from harassment.

In its latest tweak, Twitter said Monday that it will require users to be verified before they can use the online dashboard TweetDeck, a service that is popular with corporations because it allows users to manage multiple accounts from one app. 

The new policy takes effect in 30 days and appears to be aimed at raising extra revenue because users need to pay to have their accounts verified under Musk's changes.

"We believe that Meta could take market share from Twitter with the launch of Threads," noted Igor Tishin, an information technology analyst at asset manager Harding Loevner, in an email. "Its hefty subscriber base of Instagram and Facebook will quickly add sign-ups to the platform, which we've already seen overnight."

Rivalry between Musk and Zuckerberg

Musk's rivalry with Meta Platforms could end up spilling over into real life. In an online exchange between Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the two tech billionaires seemingly agreed to fight each other in a "cage match," though it's unclear if they will actually make it to the ring.

Zuckerberg, 39, took home gold and silver medals at his first jiu-jitsu tournament back in May. 

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, 51, also trains in jiu-jitsu at a California gym, he said on Joe Rogan's podcast in 2021.

— With reporting by CBS News' Li Cohen and the Associated Press.

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