Facebook has launched Threads, a standalone camera-first messaging app that acts as an extension to Instagram. According to the company, they felt that you somehow need to be more connected with your ‘Close Friends’. This close connection calls for a new app, which can arguably grant you privacy while you upload photos and location on the app.
Threads will be fully synced with your Instagram account, which means you can create your ‘close friends’ list from Threads app if you haven’t done that on Instagram. This also means that you can access the messages, both from Instagram as well as from the Threads app.
The ‘close friends’ feature was introduced in December last year on Instagram. With the app, you can message your close friends from the Instagram list. With the Threads app, you will get a personal inbox as well as notifications from your close friends.
The app, as mentioned above, is a camera-first messaging app, which means the app has access to your mobile’s camera, facilitating the share in just two taps.
You will get a list of suggested statuses, which can be shared with your close friends in a few seconds. This will save you valuable time while simultaneously updating your friends what’s happening in your life.
The Threads app also features Auto Status feature which shares little bits of information without giving away your coordinates. The feature is, by default, switched off and you can turn it on as per your wish. When you turn on the Auto Status feature, it will automatically identify your location and will update that in your status. For example, if you are sitting in a coffee shop, the app will update the status as sitting in a cafe. However, the app will not update the exact location or name of the coffee shop. Similarly, the app will update if you are on the move or if you are charging your phone. Remaining connected to ‘close friends’ is paramount, according to Facebook.
But do you really need it, especially when you don’t?
We have talked about the Auto Status feature above, which certainly raises some eyebrows, given the poor record of the company in matters related to user data. Moreover, with this feature, the app will have access to various features of your mobile such as location, movement, battery level and network connection — and protecting user privacy hasn’t been Facebook’s strong suit, to put it modestly.
New revelations reported by Buzzfeed suggest that the US President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr will be getting in touch Facebook to talk about halting the deployment of end-to-end encryption across its platform and enable the government a backdoor to the social network and its owned platforms, in the name of the ‘public safety’.
As per the company, they will not store the information that they have collected from the Auto Status feature, on their servers. Also, the information will be stored on your phone, but only for a limited time. The company hasn’t yet confirmed the exact amount of time.
You will receive ‘relevant’ ads even while you are connected with your ‘close friends’. However, the data collected from the Auto Status feature will not be used for ad targeting — at least not in-app but the ad targeting might reflect in your Facebook or Instagram account.
The real question that we must answer to is that — how much (data) are we willing to give to remain connected? This is an important question, and you should ponder on it for a while before continuing further with the Threads app.
Former Senior Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant has a keen interest in social issues and international relations.