Facebook 'Threads' App Would Aid Continuous Messaging, But Raise Privacy Concerns

Facebook is reportedly working on a new app designed for continuous messaging between users and their best friends. Dubbed Threads, the app will be positioned as an accompaniment to Instagram, sources tell The Verge.

Relative to Instagram and other popular apps, Threads will push the boundaries of user privacy, sources say.

Indeed, they say Threads will automatically request that users share their geographic whereabouts, the speed at which they’re moving, and their phone’s battery life with close friends.

Facebook declined to comment on any forthcoming products.

However, an app such as Threads might nicely tie into Facebook’s stated plans to redefine private, encrypted messaging platforms. Whether consumers would welcome such a product is another matter.

Analysts have suggested that Facebook will have a tough time pushing into private, encrypted communication apps.

Among other challenges, “Facebook's ‘privacy-focused vision" comes with a backdrop of looming privacy regulation and antitrust complaints,” Jessica Liu, a senior analyst at Forrester, wrote in a note to investors earlier this year.

Not helping Facebook’s rebranding efforts, the FTC recently voted in July to fine the company $5 billion for running afoul of its consumer-privacy rules.

In May, Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform suffered what it called a “serious security vulnerability.” Making matters worse, there was reason to believe that foreign governments might have been involved.

Were Facebook so inclined, it could position Threads as part of its years-long effort to make users’ social experiences more meaningful.

By focusing on users’ closest connections, Threads could also be taking a page from apps like Snapchat, which enjoy higher levels of user engagement by facilitating communication among smaller social networks.
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