Yes, like Snapchat.
Facebook owns Instagram and Threads is a clear move to take another chunk out of Snapchat. The Threads logo even looks like Snapchat branding and you can set photos or videos to disappear after they are viewed. Facebook must have some top-quality lawyers.
The app is trying to make it easier to share quickly with your best buds throughout the day rather than sending off posts or Instagram Stories to all your followers. In a blog post Robby Stein, Director of Product at Instagram said:
“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.”
The app is basically an inbox to your best mates' Instagram DMs, and that will likely be popular with people who like messaging over Instagram but found the UI clunky. Threads lets you theme the app to several different colour schemes and is a proper chat app now rather than an add-on feature. A new status option is only shared with your Close Friends, too.
More worrying is the app's auto-status generation that uses location data to set your status for you. The privacy implications are serious for this, as the app takes your location, movement, battery level and network connection to work out a status like 'At home', 'On the move' or 'Charging'. Instagram hopes you'll opt in because it'll be able to track you better to serve you ads.
Facebook dedicated an entire separate blog post to cover these privacy issues, stating:
"The way we use data from other parts of Facebook and Instagram to deliver relevant ads to you remains the same. Precise location information collected for Auto Status is a new feature specific to Threads and will not be used for ads."
Auto-status is opt-in, and when we tried the app it was turned off by default. You'll probably want to keep it that way.
Sneaky auto-status feature aside, the whole app is a feature you already had but repackaged. We expect Threads to start off slowly but won’t be surprised if it becomes incredibly popular thanks to its ease of use and the way it connects you with a closer network of friends.