After much speculation about a forthcoming messaging app, Instagram has just released “Threads.” Launched today, Threads is a “camera-first messaging app” meant to make it easier to stay connected with your Close Friends on Instagram. If you think it sounds eerily similar to Snapchat’s messaging model, well, you aren’t the first to draw that connection.
“Over the last few years, we've introduced new ways to visually share your experiences on Instagram and connect with people you care about,” a press release from Instagram stated. “With Threads, we’re excited to give people a new way to connect with close friends, in a dedicated, private space.”
Threads, which is a standalone app, gives users a place to share, photos, messages, videos, and Stories with their Instagram close friends list. It’s like your Instagram DMs meets your Stories meets Snapchat. Plus a little bit of your good ol’ text messages sprinkled in. “You are in control of who can reach you on Threads,” Instagram specified, “and you can customize the experience around the people who matter most.”
As The Verge noted there are already initial concerns about privacy, which Instagram has preemptively countered in a blog post. The app “invites constant, passive sharing of your location, status, and other intimate data, which both invites privacy concerns and causes some people to reconsider how they’re using that close friends list,” Casey Newton writes for The Verge.
“Your conversations are between you and the people you’re talking to,” Instagram specifiec in their privacy post, “and only your close friends will see your status.” Here how to use it Threads.
1. Specify Who Your Close Friends Are
If you haven’t already, make sure your Close Friends list is to your liking on Instagram. You can edit your list by going to your Instagram profile and tap on “Close Friends” in the side menu. You can also edit your Close Friends list within the Threads app.
2. Send Them A Message
You can message individual people on your list or set up groups of people, like you would on Stories. “Threads is built to message only with the people on your close friends list,” Instagram states.
Camera is the default screen when you open Threads and the app’s primary component. It’s ideal for sending quick photos or videos sans filter. (Yep, there’s no Instagram filters in Threads.) You’re also able to use Threads’ camera shortcuts to set certain friends as “camera shutters.” This means you’ll be able to send them photos or videos in only two taps.
3. Respond To Messages In Your Inbox
Like your Instagram DMs, this is where you’ll see messages and replies from your Close Friends. If this inbox is the cleanest, shorted one on your phone, you’re doing it right. Most people only have one and two dozen people on their Close Friends list, Robby Stein, a leads product developer for Instagram’s consumer app, told The Verge.
4. Set Up A Status (If You Want To)
This is perhaps the strangest component of Threads. Like an old school AIM away message or even Facebook statuses of yore, the Threads Status lets you tell friends where you are or what you’re up to. You’re able to manually set a status, choose from a list of suggested statuses, or opt-in to Auto Status, the latter being perhaps the most questionable privacy-wise. Auto Status “automatically shares bits of context on where you are, without giving away your exact coordinates.” For example, it’ll learn when you’re at a cafe, at home, at work, etc.
“The way we use data from other parts of Facebook and Instagram to deliver relevant ads to you remains the same,” Instagram states. “Precise location information collected for Auto Status is a new feature specific to Threads and will not be used for ads.”