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X (Twitter) vs Threads by Meta: Which social media platform is better?
Meta’s Threads has been one of the most serious competitors to X (the platform formerly known as Twitter), and it’s seeing explosive growth as well. Meta’s new social media platform reached 100 million users in five days, which is crazy no matter how you look at it. Granted, much of the steam came from its deep integration with Instagram, but it’s still an insane milestone. But with Threads now a few months old, how does it actually compare to X/Twitter? Which microblogging social media platform should you prefer? We explore in this Threads vs X faceoff!
Threads vs X (Twitter): What is the same?
Both Threads and X (Twitter) are text-focused social media platforms that build on the foundation of microblogging. While both platforms can be used to post photos and videos, the primary currency of the content is text-based.
Text-based social media
The platforms encourage serial posting of connected ideas, creating what are called “threads,” which is where Meta got the name from. Both platforms primarily focus on smaller, bite-sized content instead of long-form essays. You can mix in other forms of content, like photos and videos, and even polls on X, depending on the breadth of your idea.
Text is the primary currency for both of these platforms.
X does feel more like a text-based social media platform than Threads does, and that’s because of Threads’ Instagram roots. The community on Threads is carried over from Instagram, so it makes sense that many of the creators are still entrenched with those philosophies and haven’t yet fully adapted to a text-first style of content creation. Part of it also feels intentionally so.
Social community-driven experience
Since both are social media platforms, the social community is a large part of the experience. Who you follow and who the algorithm recommends to you plays a significant role in which forum you enjoy more. The algorithm also improves more with your activity, tailoring content based on your likes, muted accounts, follows, and other engagement metrics.
All of this ends up in a positive feedback loop: the more you use the platform, the more you will like it, and the more you’ll want to use it.
So, if you don’t like a particular platform, one of the ways to improve your experience is to use it more so that it can be tailored to your likes and preferences.
Feed: Timeline view with algorithmic recommendations from creators you don’t follow
To drive the social community experience forward, the platform needs to suggest content that you may like. This is done through the timeline view, which brings together content from the creators you follow, people your creators interact with, and other hot and trending content.
This mix of content gives the platforms a feeling of freshness. There is always something happening; if there isn’t, the algorithm pushes content forward to make it happen.
Threads vs X (Twitter): What is different?
Now let us talk about differences. Since Threads is a newer social media platform, it simply misses out on many features that X has built up over its decades of existence. The Threads experience, as a result, is quite barebones for a 100 million userbase social media app, but we presume and hope the situation will change as the platform ages.
Threads is available on iOS, Android, and the web. The web version is a little behind in features, but it is catching up.
X is available on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and the web, with complete feature parity across.
X started with a 140-character limit, bumping it up to 280 characters per tweet/post and 10,000 characters for X Premium subscribers.
The X Premium limit is rather generous, but the experience with tweets longer than 280 characters is rather shoddy as you cannot view the full content within the tweet view on your timeline but have to expand the tweet out to its own page. That increases friction in the user experience for a feature that is actually paid. So, most users still default to 280-character tweets. If there are comments under a tweet (i.e. a tweet thread) with more than 280 characters, each of them also has to be individually expanded out.
Threads has a 500-character limit. There are no extra text features like X Premium. But on the other hand, 500 characters let you express almost twice as much per post.
Alternate timeline views, sorting, filtering
X is a mature platform, so it offers a few different ways to tailor the content you want to see. In addition to the standard timeline view, you also get a “following” tab that restricts content to just the people you follow and the ability to create lists and opt for chronological sorting. These features may appear minor, but they are very underrated in personalizing the social media platform to high-activity users.
In comparison, Threads only has two views: the standard timeline view, which is just one giant list of everyone you follow mixed with recommended content, and a following view, which is just your followers. If you like to use social media a lot, you may find it easy to get lost in this sea of content without the help of alternate sorting and filtering accounts and their posts.
X has a Drafts feature, which Threads completely misses out on. This may seem a minor omission, but it dramatically impacts user experience.
Many users use Drafts for their short and spontaneous thoughts, preferring to hold the content back until they can iron out the ideas. Others use it to keep content composed and ready to post later, to get maximum engagement, etc.
Note that you cannot save a thread of tweets on X as a draft.
X used to let you schedule posts through the Tweetdeck interface, but that feature has now been paywalled behind X Premium. Meanwhile, Threads does not have a scheduling feature. You can even schedule Instagram posts and stories through the Meta Business Suite (previously known as Facebook Creator Studio), but the tool has not integrated Threads within its ambit yet.
X has a robust Direct Messages feature that works for in-app messaging, for the most part. It does suffer from the platform’s spam bots problem and the occasional unannounced setting change (X recently defaulted to allowing only X Premium users to send messages). Still, the feature exists, and it works.
Threads has no Direct Messages feature, so you cannot have private conversations on the platform. If you want to DM someone, you can follow them on their Instagram profile. You can send them a message over there if they have a public profile.
X has a live audio broadcasting feature called X Live. You can host audio rooms and invite people to speak while your followers can freely tune in as an audience.
Threads is a newer platform, and it misses out on a bunch of features that many enjoy on X/Twitter.
Threads does not have any live audio broadcasting feature. Meta has not shared any plans of the feature coming to the platform.
Threads follows Instagram’s Community Guidelines and other content policies. These policies prohibit NSFW content, such as nudity. What you can see on Instagram is what you can see on Threads. Many users have also long complained that a few other forms of content are technically allowed on the platform (and hence not removed if someone reports it) but never promoted by the algorithm due to their controversial nature.
X, on the other hand, has liberal policies around NSFW content. Nudity and sexual content are allowed, making it a great networking platform for adult workers, though many also need supplementary platforms for successful monetization.
X does not allow violent speech, hateful conduct, or other forms of illegal or sensitive content. But generally speaking, X has a reasonably relaxed posting policy, much like Reddit.
X has a Community Notes feature to tackle misinformation. The community is empowered to fact-check viral posts, adding much-needed context.
Threads has no corresponding feature to tackle misinformation. Meta has not shared any plans of the feature coming to the platform.
Threads does not have any independent verification system of its own. It carries over verification from Instagram instead. Instagram allows identity-based verification for public figures and celebrities and verification for brands, and monetized “verification” through what is popularly known as a “blue tick subscription.” So, as an individual, there is still a chance that you can get identity-verified for being a notable individual.
X no longer has an independent verification system, which is ironic for the website that made blue ticks famous. The only forms of verification available are now paid, either as an X Premium subscriber in an individual capacity or under the Verified Organizations program as a brand or a working professional under a brand. You can also get verified as a government official, though rules and guidelines around this could not be located.
X has ads, which can take various forms, such as promoted posts, promoted accounts to follow, promoted trending topics, promoted search results, branded hashtags, and more. As a brand, you have various options to get noticed if you are willing to pay. As a user, you have to deal with all of these too.
Threads does not have ads yet. The platform is in its nascent stage, so it is clean and ad-free. But we predict that ads will come to the platform sooner or later, as it does need to monetize to keep the show running. So enjoy the clean UX while it exists because ads and monetization will come one day.
Creator incentives and monetization
X has a variety of incentives and monetization mechanisms for creators:
- Amplify Pre-Roll: Opt-in advertising that serves pre-roll against premium video content shared on X.
- Super follows: Monthly subscription option for $2.99-$9.99 (set by the creator), which allows exclusive content and interactions.
- Tips: One-time tips from followers. X does not take a cut from tips.
- Ads Revenue Sharing: Recently introduced monetization effort that shares ads revenue with eligible creators.
Threads does not have any incentive or monetization mechanisms for its creators. Meta has not shared whether these will come soon. Since the platform is new, we predict it will take a while for the platform to share any monetization with creators, especially since many creators have carried over their massive follower lists to the new platform without any specific efforts.
X has a fair few features that are either not present on Threads yet, or are implemented differently. Here are some missing features:
- Search: X has advanced search, while Threads only has a basic search function.
- Username modification: X lets you change your username, while Threads does not. Your username on Threads is directly tied to your Instagram username, so you will need to change your Instagram username to change your Threads username.
- Account switching: X makes it easy to switch between accounts. Threads does not have an account switcher, even though Instagram does.
Here are some different implementations:
- Hashtags: X has hashtag support to spot trending content. This dramatically helps with locating hyperlocal news. Threads also introduced hashtag support, but you don’t have to start a hashtag with #, and it can have spaces between the words, too. However, it’s not easy to locate trending content.
X vs Threads by Meta: Which social media platform is the best?
It is abundantly clear that although Threads tries to be a X replacement, it is not completely there yet. Threads may be the fastest app to reach 100 million users, but it has a long way to go ahead of it.
As a finished product, I still prefer X despite all of the platform’s shortcomings. There are days when it gets incredibly difficult to keep up with the banal changes that are introduced, and I would love to jump ship. And I just about did to Threads.
But Threads does not have the features yet that can have it stand shoulder-to-shoulder against X in a cage fight. It does have a vibrant community that other X alternatives do not have, but it does not replicate the whole X package just yet. For now, as a creator myself, I am trying to grow my presence on Threads while still enjoying my already-built community on X.
X (Twitter) may have the present in control, but Threads has immense potential for the future.
That doesn’t mean Threads is bad and has no future. The deep Instagram integration will yield dividends for creators who are already established on Meta’s social media. Meta also shows immense dedication to its products, willing to put a lot of time, money, and effort into its visions. It’s just a matter of time before Meta begins shipping crucial features that users are yearning for on Threads.