A week after Instagram Threads announced it had begun testing a search feature in Australia and New Zealand, the feature is today expanding to "most" English and Spanish-speaking countries, according to a post on Threads by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The expansion will impact countries where people post in English and Spanish, including Argentina, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Though Threads -- Meta's attempt at rivaling Twitter, now called X -- had offered a rudimentary search feature when it launched, it would only surface Threads users, not their content. That changed with the launch of full-text search last week, allowing users to seek out keywords and topics being discussed on the platform, not just other people.
“We are actively listening to the community’s feedback and working on more features to improve the search experience,” the company said in a statement at the time of the initial tests.
Image Credits: Instagram
The rapid expansion of Threads search to more markets is part of Instagram's broader efforts to increase engagement on its app. Threads had experienced a blowout debut, becoming the fastest app to reach 100 million users to date, thanks to how it tied in the new user onboarding experience to its larger parent app, Instagram, making it easier for users to immediately have both followers and a following.
However, in the weeks since Threads' July arrival, user activity declined.
Mobile intelligence firm Sensor Tower reported in August that Threads’ daily active users had dropped 82% since launch, and there were now just 8 million users accessing the app daily. To address this drop, Threads has quickly rolled out more features users have requested -- like search, as well as a fully functional web app. But the latter also had little impact in terms of bringing more usage to the platform, data from digital intelligence firm Similarweb indicated. It found that the traffic bump from the web app launch was only 3% on a global basis.
Other new features Threads added shortly after its launch have included a chronological feed, a place to see your likes, a reposts tab and other minor tweaks. But users still need more to make the switch from Twitter/X, it seems -- for example, lists, bookmarks and, importantly, trends.
Without the combination of both search and trends -- features that made Twitter a global conversation hub -- Threads is less compelling. X's timeline is not just a feed of updates, it’s a way to see which topics are bubbling up across the platform and what news is breaking. Today Threads is pleasant enough to scroll through — especially with its panoramic photo feature — but it doesn’t have the feel of a real-time news network.
Still, Threads may get an extra bump with the expansion of search as it's timed alongside X owner Elon Musk's latest erratic behavior which has him threatening to sue the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization that works to combat antisemitism, extremism and bigotry. Musk believes it's the ADL to blame for X's declining ad revenues and not, say, X's now less stringent moderation policies in favor of Musk's preferred brand of "free speech." The Musk-led changes have led to an increase in antisemitic content and hate speech on the platform, according to the ADL and others.
As for Threads, Zuckerberg suggested the rollout of search will continue as he noted that after the English and Spanish-speaking markets, there would be "more to come."
Threads isn't the only Twitter competitor working on search right now. Mastodon also announced more advanced search features last week, which allow users to filter posts on its top instance, mastodon.social, using a number of search operators.