Here's what data you can expect to give up by joining Threads
- Threads is Meta's new app, a text-based social media platform connected to Instagram.
- Threads collects various types of user data, including online habits and general location.
Threads allows third-party services or sites to access some user data without controls from Meta, something it regulates more heavily in its other products, such as Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and Portal. This means that users have less control over their data and may not know where it winds up.
Beyond being able to access your public content, the company can access your camera to collect data on its usage, unencrypted messages sent and received, your interactions with ads and website content, the length of time you spend on the apps, and your device details — down to your battery level and signal strength.
For transactions, Meta collects your card number and details, billing, shipping, contact details, what you purchased, and the vaguely-stated "other account and authentication information." Even if your location services are turned off, the service collects IP addresses to approximate your location — something not unique to Meta's applications.
The app can also collect personal demographics, including education level, race, pregnancy status, various health data, and the vaguely-defined "sensitive data," which, according to Apple's definition of app privacy policies, can include"religious or philosophical beliefs." According to reporting by CBS, a cybersecurity expert from Drexel University raised concerns about protecting personal privacy under these guidelines.
Data collection can have serious consequences. Previous reporting from Insider explored how Meta, for example, helped provide evidence in the prosecution of a Nebraska woman accused of helping her daughter receive an abortion.
How Threads pulls its users further into the shared data-verse
But that's just the beginning of the data collected if you use Threads in addition to other Meta apps.
On or off Meta products, according to the policy, some information on Threads is visible to the entire internet — as on most social media sites, your username, name, profile photo, and bio are always public. Additionally, because Threads is "integrated" with various third-party services, those services can access some of your data, including your posts, IP address, and online activity such as comments or interactions with other users.
By nature of this integration, information sent or shared with a third party is not controlled by Meta and is subject to whatever rules the party may have. Examples of possible third parties could include service providers to the company, investors, or various vendors. Without full control of which third parties are collecting data and what they can do with that data, users can't be entirely sure where their data or what data will be stored around the internet.
Threads does allow users to manage or delete their information from the app by using their Instagram settings. However, both apps mostly allow viewers to control what of their profiles is public — not what data the company ultimately collects.
In a statement to Insider, Meta said Threads' privacy policies are similar to their other apps, including Instagram.
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