How to get the best Threads experience without risking your Instagram

A hundred million people have signed up for it, brands are flocking to it, and Elon Musk doesn’t seem happy about it.

Threads, the Twitter clone rolled out by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta last week, is an incredibly simple and sometimes overwhelming app at the same time. Whether you’re an intrigued Instagram user who dreams of posting words instead of photos, or a scarred Twitter user who just wants things back they way they were, Threads hopes you’ll test the waters.

Thanks to Meta’s existing billions of Instagram users, getting huge sign-up numbers was easy for Threads. People didn’t even need to create new accounts (though many should have, which we’ll cover in a minute). With the early mania of people feeling out a new social network, it’s still hard to tell exactly what the app is for and if it can succeed where Twitter has failed.

While you wait for it to settle and mature, you can do a few things to make the current experience more usable and, yes, even Twitter-like.

How to get started with Threads

As of now, Threads is only available on an iOS or Android app and you can only see the full version if you create an account. There is no full desktop version. (When looking up the app, use these links or search for the full official name to avoid fakes: “Threads, an Instagram app.”)

However, you don’t need a Threads account to see individual posts. If you know who you are looking for, you can put their link into any browser to see what they’re saying if their account is public.

For now, you can probably see many of the same things people are putting on Threads cross-posted to other similar social networks, though you’ll miss the exact conversations they inspire. Keep on checking Twitter, Bluesky, Mastodon and for fun, LinkedIn.

Consider creating a new Instagram account

Many people have kept their online worlds siloed on purpose, avoiding people they actually know on TikTok and never connecting with strangers on Facebook. Because it’s created on top of Instagram, Threads has the potential to muddle those lines.

When you set up Threads, it makes you use an Instagram account. If you only have one existing account for private posts, you may want to start a new one just for Threads. That way there’s less of a connection between the two spheres. More importantly, there isn’t a way to delete a Threads account without deleting the underlying Instagram account.

If your Instagram account is already designed for the public, and especially if it’s verified, you might be wise to use it after considering the risk. Currently, verification is shared between the two apps and notoriously tricky to get. (You can try applying here.)

How to improve the raw algorithmic feed

There is no option to see posts only from the people you follow, though Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri says it’s in the works. That means Threads users are at the whim of its algorithmic feed, which chooses what posts you see, from whom and in what order.

Frankly, it’s not the best. While this approach is exactly what has made TikTok such a success, Threads can choose an unfortunate, uncreative mix of posts. In one scroll you might see Christian prayer accounts, raunchy memes and endless thirsty brands desperate to be seen.

The biggest thing you can do is follow more people. Drown out the ick with experienced creators, outlets and people you already know are going to be interesting. There’s no way to import your Twitter follows yet, but you can search manually, look through other people’s follows and see who they’ve found. Try posting your Threads account on other sites and asking people to find you. While you can automatically follow people you already see on Instagram, that doesn’t always translate to the best Threads content.

Next you want to go on a block and mute spree. In the top right corner of each post, there are three dots. Tap and hit Block if you never want to hear from or interact with that account again, or Mute if they’re someone you know but just aren’t into hearing from right now. They’ll never know they’re muted.

If all of this sounds like too much work, consider just waiting until the app has more features to help and a feed of who you follow. Not everyone needs to be a beta tester.

Take care of your mental health

Before jumping headfirst into another social network — chasing the dopamine hits or losing hours to a new flavor of doomscroll — set some limits.

Start by making sure notifications are off. You can turn them off at the smartphone level in settings, or go into Threads, open Settings -> Notifications. There’s an option to block all or dive into more detailed options so you do see what’s most important to you.

Threads has optimistically included an option to get reminders when you need to take a break. You can set it to every 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Or you can use your smartphone’s existing screen time controls to limit how much you use the new app.

If you face harassment on social media sites, you’ll want to tweak some settings on Threads right away. Go to Settings → Privacy → Mentions and switch to Profiles you follow or No one to minimize what posts you see. While there’s not an automatic way to port over things like your Twitter blocks, you can look up anyone you had blocked on that site and make sure you do the same on Threads. Go to Settings → Privacy → Blocked profiles and hit the plus sign to start a search.

This is one of a number of settings that is shared between Threads and Instagram, so anyone you block or have blocked will be the same on both apps. Other shared settings include parental controls and security (turn on two-factor authentication!).

Use the tricks that are out, look out for new ones

While it’s still bare-bones, there are a few neat things in Threads. While you are writing, hit enter three times to make a Threads post into a Threads thread, as you curse the person who named the app after a thing you do on the app.

If your post on Threads is so good you want other networks to see it, you can repost it easily. Tap the little paper airplane icon below your post and add it to your Instagram story, your Instagram feed or on Twitter to bring it all full circle.

Follow the Instagram team, specifically Mosseri, to learn about new features as they come out. They’ve already teased an option to make edits, but without charging like Twitter.

Understand where it fits in your life, if at all

Each major social network has its own vibe, but how does Threads fit in to your social media rotation? It’s too soon to tell exactly, but so far it feels more cheerful, like a corporation-friendly Disney version of Twitter. More brands than insight, more pretty travel memes than revealing investigative threads.

It’s not a coincidence. Threads is actively trying to be a lighter version of Twitter by steering away from hard news and politics. Mosseri said this week that while those topics and creators were bound to “show up” on the app, they weren’t going to encourage them.

If Threads isn’t for glossy photos, hard news, political arguments, your mom or short videos, what’s left? One of the joys of the internet is that even Threads probably doesn’t know yet. While it can manipulate what people see using the algorithm and crack down on certain kinds of posts with moderation rules, at the end of the day humans are funny and weird and are going to create the communities they want.

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