Instagram is taking the next step toward a more private social network with an app dedicated for sharing with only your closest friends. Launched on Thursday, October 3, Threads is an Instagram app that ignores everyone but the Close Friends list, updating them with automatic status updates based on your location.
The previously rumored Threads app uses the Close Friends list Instagram launched last year to automatically bring your favorite friends over into a more private app. Instagram is both a social network for friends and for following influencers and creatives — Threads focuses on the people that are friends in the in-person sense of the word. That narrowed focus, parent company Facebook claims, creates a more private space for interaction.
Unlike a typical Facebook friend, other users can’t request to be added to your Close Friends list. Facebook says users aren’t notified when they are added or removed from the list and that the list is “private and totally in your control.”
One of the apps major features, however, requires users to share their location data and even battery life with Facebook. Auto status uses location data to share generalized statuses without user input. The app may use location data to say “At a cafe,” for example, but won’t share exactly what coffee shop you are at. Other auto statuses included when you are on the move, at the beach or at the gym, but will also let close friends know when you are at home.
Auto status isn’t required to use the app, however, and is an opt-in tool. Facebook says the data from the auto status tool isn’t used for ads, is only stored temporarily and can be deleted if you turn the feature off.
For the non-automatic status updates, the Threads app opens straight to the camera, a design that’s to encourage users to share snapshots of their day. The feature, however, is similar to the way Snapchat opens straight to the camera. Users can add shortcuts to that home camera screen for even faster updates, the company says.
Threads also includes a dedicated inbox, but messages from people on that Close Friends list will still also appear in Instagram Direct.
The Threads app comes after parent company Facebook claimed the future of the social network is private, following a series of data privacy scandals. By creating an app for just the closest friends, Facebook offers a glimpse at a more private space without eliminating the “social” in social network.