Instagram rolls out stand-alone messaging app for 'close friends'

Threads builds on Close Friends feature to enable faster sharing of photos, videos, messages and status information.

Threads: expands on Close Friends feature
Threads: expands on Close Friends feature

Facebook has introduced Threads from Instagram, which it calls a "camera-first messaging app".

The standalone app expands on the Close Friends feature that Instagram introduced last year, creating a dedicated space to quickly share photos, videos, messages, Stories and status updates with people in the Close Friends list. Messages from Close Friends will appear in both Threads and Instagram Direct.

The app's status feature lets users quickly send either predefined updates (such as "studying") or custom updates of their own. Alternatively, users can turn on an Auto Status feature that "automatically shares little bits of context on where you are without giving away your coordinates", according to the company's blog post announcing the app.

Auto Status makes use of phone-provided information such as location, movement, battery level and network connection to send emoji-festooned updates, such as "At a cafe" or "On the move".

The way Facebook uses data from other parts of Facebook and Instagram to deliver relevant ads remains unchanged, the company said in a post detailing privacy policies around the new app. "Precise location information collected for Auto Status is a new feature specific to Threads and will not be used for ads," the post added.

Such features will be explicitly opt-in, Facebook said, adding that the user's precise location won't be shared. In addition, information sent to the company's servers to look up locations will not be stored there; it will be stored on the user's device, but only for a limited time.

A version of this story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific