Privacy Matters: Threads

Privacy Matters: Threads

By Karina Newton, Head of Policy, Instagram

We know people want to stay connected with their close friends online. That’s why Facebook is launching Threads, a new camera-first messaging app from Instagram for keeping up with your close friends in a dedicated space. We built Threads with privacy in mind, so that you can feel comfortable using the app to communicate with your close friends.

What choices and controls do I have?

  • Close Friends: Threads is designed for you to share what you’re up to with the people on your close friends list. We introduced Close Friends last year, so you can choose to share your Stories with a smaller group of people. Your close friends list is private and totally in your control – only you can see it, no one can request to be added to it and no one will be notified if you add or remove them from your list – so you can feel comfortable adjusting it when you need. On Threads, there is no pending inbox with message requests, so only the people you choose to put on your list can send you a message.

  • Status: Status is an opt-in feature on Threads for sharing what you’re up to with your close friends. You can choose from suggested statuses like “📚 Studying,” create your own such as “😅 Procrastinating” or turn on Auto Status, which automatically lets your close friends know what you’re up to without having to actively send them a message. If you turn it on, Auto Status is informed by your device, like the charging state of your phone “🔌 Low battery,” or from location services, which you’ll need to allow in your phone settings. Turning on location services is required for Auto Status to identify and share the general category of the place you’re at, like “🏖 At the beach,” “🚗 On the move” or “🏠 At home.” For example, the Auto Status “ ☕ At a cafe” is set when you’re at a coffee shop, but it won’t share the name of the cafe or the address. Auto Status is completely opt-in and you can change or turn it off at any time.

How does this impact data collection and the ads I see?

If you enable Auto Status, Threads will request your location, movement, battery level and network connection from your phone in order to determine what context to share. For example, Auto Status might use your precise location to show your friends that you’re “☕ At a cafe.”  Or Auto Status might detect that you’re biking and set your status to “🚲 On the Move.” Before this is enabled, you’ll be told what information Auto Status is requesting and will be asked to specifically agree.  Auto Status will not share your precise location with your friends, and when Threads sends location information to our server to look up locations, it’s not stored there – this information is only stored on your device for a limited time. It is also deleted if you remove Threads. 

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.

Who sees my information and activity?

Threads is for connecting with your close friends list on Instagram, which you control. Your conversations are between you and the people you’re talking to, and only your close friends will see your status. 

As with the main Instagram app, you can easily and anonymously report any message you feel violates our Community Guidelines. We also have resources for parents that highlight some of the tools we have in place to keep teens safe. We’re committed to protecting people’s well-being and privacy, so people can feel comfortable connecting with their close friends.

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