Recently, news has surfaced that Facebook is testing a new Instagram app titled Threads. The news surfaced after Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is planning to shift users away from private messaging, among various other privacy changes. The app is designed to be used alongside Instagram and invites users to share various personal details with “close friends” including location, battery life, speed, text, video, and photo messages. The app constantly updates these various details and once users opt-in, Threads regularly updates their status for them. Users’ status updates will be showcased in a feed with a green dot showing which users are currently active. If the app is released to the public, it could be seen as a competitor to Snapchat as the picture messaging app already allows users to share their location, pictures, and videos with “close friends”.
Even though it is not currently released to the public, Threads raises various security and privacy concerns. Not only will the app give Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg a constant stream of personal data on its millions of users to analyze and mine, but it also normalizes the practice of sharing personal data. Sian Brooke, a researcher from the Oxford Internet Institute, states that, “You change your behavior if you’re constantly being looked at. If you know people see where you are, what you’re consuming, you’ll change what you’re doing, change what is normal in a group”.
In my opinion, I think the app sounds a lot like other apps that are already released and would need to have something unique that would set itself apart from other popular apps like Snapchat. Even though users would have to opt-in to the automatic updating features, I think that it restricts users’ privacy and would contribute to the normalization of sharing personal data/information. It’ll be interesting to see if the app ever gets released and what the app will “officially” contain. If Threads ever gains as much popularity as Mark Zuckerberg’s other apps, automatic personal data sharing could become the norm.