INSTAGRAM HAS A NEW spin-off app, just in case you somehow thought Facebook didn't have a big enough footprint on your phone with its main apps, Messenger and WhatsApp. This one is called Threads (iOS, Android), and it's all about messaging your friends - how come nobody else thought of that?
In fact, Instagram already did. You can message people directly in the app if you want a break from the endless stream of selfie vanity and influencers trying to hawk you products. But while Threads lets you send photos and send messages like every other messaging app out there, its main USP is ‘Status'.
Because Threads is aimed at very close friends, Facebook figures you won't mind them knowing where you are at any given time like a guardian angel, or a parole officer. You can set this like the MSN Messenger statuses of old, or let the app handle it automatically for you, informing friends if you're out for coffee, or cycling to work.
The rationale for this is letting friends know when you're available for fun: if you're at home, the app reckons, your friends should know that you're potentially open to going out. If you're at work, you may want to go out, but probably shouldn't if you want to continue drawing a salary.
Facebook is very touchy about privacy stuff right now, so is keen to highlight why this something you should feel creeped out by with a blog post on its site. "Threads will request your location, movement, battery level and network connection from your phone in order to determine what context to share," it explains.
"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." Facebook adds that Auto Status "will not be used for ads," either. Well, unless your friends decide to advertise at you, anyway.
If you're shaking your head and wondering why anybody would voluntarily give up their data for this, you're probably in the wrong demographic. Apps popular with young flibbertigibbets like the Snappety Chat already will pop you on a map for your friends to see if you let them, and for some that's "handy" rather than "nightmarish".
In other words, one man's convenience is another dystopian nightmare. And if Facebook ever needed a new tagline, that wouldn't be too bad a shout. µ
Hype for HyperThreading
Hey kids, leave them iPhones alone
The Mac lady sings
Babel in yo ear