Instagram's new messaging app wants to know a lot about you
Even your battery level...
On the surface, Instagram's new app Threads from Instagram sounds like a home run swing, it makes sense considering the direction social media is heading.
The new Threads app, which was launched this week, is designed specifically for private messages (specifically photos) between you and your close friends. But if you decide to opt in to all of Threads features, it will be granted an uncomfortable amount of access into your daily life.
One aim of the app is to entice people who don't post or share stories very often, to become more active. An occasional user might be more likely to share a photo with a close group of friends.
But it's also a way for regular users to share with specific friends rather then their entire followers list.
Threads is basically an extension of Instagram's Close Friends feature for Stories, which was introduced in 2018.
Close Friends lets you share pictures, videos and message only with groups of people you've directly selected and Threads is a standalone app to support this feature.
It's Instagram's latest attempt to stick it to Snapchat as it bids to reinforce its place as a "camera first" app.
As well as the above, it also has a Status feature which allows your friends to see what you're up to, within reason obviously.
For example, if the app notices you at the gym, it will put a symbol beside your photo to say you're working out. The same can be done for if you're sitting at home in the evening.
These Status updates can all be done manually, or you can opt into the Auto-Status mode, which is where things begin to make me feel a little uneasy.
If you opt in, Threads — and its maker Facebook — look for a lot of information on you including continuous, 24/7 access to your physical location, your movements, whether you're working out, are you connected to WIFI or mobile data and even your battery level.
We will emphasise, this is an optional feature but in a time where we pay little attention to what permissions apps require on your phone, it's an important thing to note.
While Facebook has put an increasing emphasis on privacy since the Cambridge Analytica revelations, there's a large difference from privacy while using Facebook and privacy from Facebook themselves.
If you're unsure of what the data collected by Facebook and other social media sites is used for, you can read our explanation of how Google generates revenue from building detailed profiles about their users here.