Facebook's Instagram is giving its users a dedicated space to chat, share photos, GIFs, and much more with just their close friends as a part of its new app. Called Threads, the app is essentially an extension of Instagram Direct messaging feature built specifically for the contacts in the close friends list. The app is now available to download on Android and iOS globally.
The announcement was made by Instagram in a blog post underscoring that the small circle of close friends "need to stay more connected throughout the day" and Threads makes it convenient for them to communicate via texts and share photos, videos to show what they are "feeling". The conversation threads with contacts is similar to Instagram Direct without any additions. Threads lets contacts to share photos and videos instantly with a close set of friends. However, if the user wants to share a post from the feed, it can only be done via the marquee Instagram app as there is no photo feed on Threads.
Users can choose people that they want to be connected with as 'Close Friends'. There is a feature called 'Auto Status', which allows friends to keep up with what everyone is up to. It is very similar to WhatsApp Status except for its ability to determine activities according to phone's geographical and system status. For example, if a user is on the move, the Auto Status will automatically be set to 'On the move' with a 'car' emoji. The coordinates of the user's location will not be shared though, claims Facebook. Facebook also says it's an opt-in feature and can be turned off.
Privacy is presently the most crucial factor that Facebook has faced a lot of backlash for compromising it. Which is why Instagram is stressing Threads is "designed with privacy...in mind". The Auto Status and other information shared by the user is only shared with contacts in the 'Close Friends' list or the people the users chooses. And the user can opt out of the feature any time. The theme of the Threads app can also be changed, making it the second app after Messenger to feature the dark mode among other themes that can be changed from the app's settings.
"You are in control of who can reach you on Threads, and you can customize the experience around the people who matter most," wrote Robby Stein, Director of Product, Instagram in the post.
For Instagram Direct, Facebook says it will continue to be available as it has been. The messages exchanged between 'Close Friends' will appear in both Threads and Instagram Direct.