The history of Facebook going into battle against Snapchat using its Instagram subsidiary is well established now: for example the moment when Instagram nabbed Snapchat’s ‘stories’ feature in 2016. Now a new front in the battle has been opened up, with a standalone app launched by Facebook called Threads from Instagram, which rolled out globally yesterday. The pitch: “A new camera-first messaging app that helps you stay connected to your close friends… designed with privacy, speed, and your close connections in mind”.
The app uses Instagram’s ‘Close Friends’ feature, which launched last year as a way for people to signify their closest mates (or, for a growing number of influencers, their paying fans). Threads also offers a ‘status’ feature for people to let friends know what they’re up to, using emoji and short status updates (at home, at the gym, studying etc). The twist with this feature – Facebook-privacy sceptics look away now, or reach for your burning pitchforks – is that it can be automated, with Threads guessing which status is appropriate based on signals including location, speed of travel (using the accelerometer to detect if you’re in a car, for example) and battery status.
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