Threads is ‘gobbling’ personal information

July 19th, 2023

Threads, the new Twitter-like social media app from the makers of Instagram, racked up 100 million users within five days of launching. Obviously, it’s popular (though engagement is waning). But it’s also worrisome, as it presents new concerns about privacy and safety and appears to be “gobbling data.”

Produced by Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Threads allows users to connect with the people on their Instagram “close friends” list. You can post messages, join group conversations, share video and photos, and update your status—from moods to whereabouts.

The problems lie in the connections among friends and the sharing of all that information. As it’s intended to be used, Threads has access to your phone’s address book, its camera, and the location data it generates.

It is yet another app clamoring for you to post and share, launching at a time when experts are increasingly concerned about the dangers of over-sharing. And it offers more opportunities for young people to encounter inappropriate content and suffer from (and engage in) cyber-bullying and other negative behaviors.

Like other social media and messaging apps, Threads collects data about all the ways in which you use the app. It also gathers data about how you use your phone, which apps you use, and what you click on while browsing the internet. In short, it’s tracking you. As the Washington Post recently reported, Threads is “gobbling data you might not expect.”

The app has yet to launch in Europe, in part because of concerns it won’t be able to comply with European privacy regulations.

Accounts for users under 16 are automatically set to private, which is good, but it hardly ensures the app is safe for kids. Young people will still have access to posts that would raise eyebrows if not red flags.

. . .