Instagram releases Threads to keep your friends close and Facebook’s targeted ad marketing even closer

Instagram releases Threads to keep your friends close and Facebook ad marketing even closer
Image: Instagram

Last week, Instagram announced it would be introducing a new spinoff application called Threads. The program allows users to exchange photos, videos, and messages but only with a select group of people. In a press release, the company explained its new product is intended to help people stay connected to their “close friends in a dedicated, private space.”

Besides, while the program has no ads, it does provide Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, with a wealth of user data.

How Does Threads Work?

Threads is essentially a build-out of Instagram’s existing “Close Friends” feature. With it, users can share personal content with a select group instead of having it published to their main page. Indeed, consumers need to have an Instagram account and a Close Friends list to use the new app.

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When opened, the program activates the user’s camera and allows them to share photos or videos in a few taps. Notably, Threads does not support Instagram’s filters. The app only allows subscribers to add captions or scribble over their content. That lack of functionality suggests Threads is legitimately intended to be a communications service rather than a social platform.

The app also features a location tracker/activity monitor that Engadget dubbed “creepy.” Auto Status, which is inactive by default, posts brief updates on a user’s behalf. For example, over time, the program determines where a person works and lives and tells a subscriber’s followers when they’re at those places. It can also show an individual’s closest friends when they are traveling, exercising, or vacationing.

However, Auto Status does not share exact location information, meaning the feature both intrudes upon and protects the user’s privacy. Creepy, right?

What Does Facebook Get Out of Threads?

For Facebook, Threads serves several purposes. First off, the social network wants to increase its monthly active user base with a new product. Moreover, the app promotes interaction between close-knit groups, so it should also boost the platform’s usage times.

Also, Facebook’s latest offering can help further CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s goal of revamping the corporation’s image. Not only is Threads a privacy-centric service, but it’s also an encrypted one. Whereas Instagram prompts users to present an idealized version of themselves to the world, the new product stresses the importance of authenticity.

Furthermore, Threads is plainly a play by the Big Tech firm to go after Snapchat’s user base. Indeed, Threads mirrors many of Snap’s key features with the bonus of interoperability with Instagram. Plus, once the company interpolates the program with Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, the service can position itself as an all-in-one hub for social media users.

Lastly, Facebook will likely utilize the information gleaned by Auto Status to improve its advertising efforts. Again, presently, the firm hasn’t integrated ads into Threads, but right now, it isn’t necessary. If the app can provide real-time user location data, the corporation can narrow the focus of the marketing bursts.

As selling highly effective ads is Facebook’s core business, the company will probably press Instagram’s 1 billion monthly active users to download Threads. However, given the app’s invasiveness and the firm’s worsening public reputation, it might have to hard-sell its new product.