Instagram Introduces 'Threads', A Chat App With 'Unique' Privacy Approach

Instagram was an app with a particular use. But when more features are added, things can get complex. This is where Threads comes in.

Threads is similar to Facebook Messenger. In other words, it's literally a spin-off app created specifically for private messaging between Instagram "close friends".

Besides allowing users to send text, photos, and videos, Threads also allows passive location sharing, status and others.

The app has three major core components:

  • The camera, which is the default screen when users open the app. This can be used just for taking photos and videos, with no filters option available.
  • The Inbox, which is similar to direct messages on Instagram, but is only limited to close friends.
  • The Status screen, where users can pick an emoji and type in some words, or choose among the pre-populated statuses Instagram has created.
Instagram Threads

According to Instagram on its blog post announcing Threads:

"Over the last few years, we’ve introduced several new ways to share visually on Instagram and connect with people you care about – from sharing everyday moments on Stories to visual messages on Direct. But for your smaller circle of friends, we saw the need to stay more connected throughout the day, so you can communicate what you’re doing and how you’re feeling through photos and videos."

"That’s why we built Threads, a new way to message with close friends in a dedicated, private space."

What makes Threads unique is its Status feature.

It has an 'Auto Status' mode, which will refresh users status throughout the day. Using data from users' location, the app can learn when the users are at home or at work, for example, and update the status accordingly.

By spinning off its app, Instagram is opening more ways for it to improvise, and also add even more features in the future.

It's just like Facebook Messenger when it spun off out of Facebook's core app. Since then, Facebook Messenger has become a fully-fledged app with numerous features and functions that go beyond even the normal uses or messaging.

And just like Facebook and Facebook Messenger, or Instagram as well for that matter, Threads also has its own privacy implications.

While Instagram said that Threads is "designed with privacy, speed, and your close connections in mind," and said that it won't ever store users' exact location, but rather uses the information to create "context", it does require some sensitive requirements.

Threads - Auto Status

For example, Instagram said that Threads "will request your location, movement, battery level and network connection from your phone in order to determine what context to share."

Instagram continued by saying that "Auto Status might use your precise location to show your friends that you’re 'At a cafe'. Or Auto Status might detect that you’re biking and set your status to 'On the Move'."

That is certainly a lot of data to give up.

After numerous privacy issues, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and data breaches (1) (2) (3) (4), some users may find that the trade-off isn’t worth it. But still, Threads represents Instagram’s bold move to build a companion messaging app to go along its the array of apps Facebook also has.

People just love to communicate, and messaging apps are one of the best ways to keep users glued to their screen. This is something Instagram couldn't simply give up.

Read: On The Internet, Be Very Careful: Maintain Privacy By Limiting What You Give