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Instagram Introduces Threads, a New Messaging App

Instagram is introducing Threads, a new messaging app that is designed to be used only by your closest friends. The app is a companion for Instagram that lets you quickly share text, photos, and videos with your close friends list. The app also invites constant, passive sharing of your location, status, and other intimate data. This, however, raises privacy concerns and causes some people to reconsider how they’re using that close friends list.

Threads has three core components. The first is the camera, which is the default screen when you open the app. It’s just for taking photos and videos. The app also offers customizable shortcuts for your close friends. The second component of Threads is the inbox, which mirrors your direct messages on Instagram but is limited to your close friends. The third one is status screen. To create a status, you pick an emoji and type out a few words or choose from among the many pre-populated statuses that Instagram has created.

You can also opt into auto status which will refresh your status throughout the day. Instagram says it won’t store your exact location, but rather uses the information to create “context.” The company says, your status will only be seen by your close friends.

The privacy implications are significant, which is why Instagram wrote a separate blog post about Threads privacy in conjunction with today’s launch:

“Threads will request your location, movement, battery level and network connection from your phone in order to determine what context to share. For example, 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.” Before this is enabled, you’ll be told what information Auto Status is requesting and will be asked to specifically agree. Auto Status will not share your precise location with your friends, and when Threads sends location information to our server to look up locations, it’s not stored there – this information is only stored on your device for a limited time. It is also deleted if you remove Threads.”