In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Instagram has confirmed that it’s shutting down its standalone messaging app ‘Threads’, which it launched back in 2019, essentially as a Snapchat alternative for connecting close friends.
As you may or may not recall, Threads is a messaging app which was initially designed for maintaining connection with your Instagram inner circle, facilitating text, photo and video sharing among only those included on your Instagram ‘close friends’ list.
But then, in October last year, Instagram announced an update to Threads to include all of your Instagram messages, not just those from close friends, which essentially made it just like every other messaging app. The only variance with Threads now is its ‘auto-status’ option, which allocates an emoji status update for each user without them having to manual input such, by making an assumption of what each user might be up to at any given time based on their location, their movement, their phone’s battery level, etc.
So there’s not really much reason for people to be opening a separate messaging app, especially now that all of their Instagram and Messenger chats are already integrated, streamlining connection in two of its most popular messaging options (which WhatsApp also coming soon).
As per Instagram:
“We know that people care about connecting with their close friends, and we’ve seen this particularly over the past few years with the growth of messaging on Instagram. We’re now focusing our efforts on enhancing how you connect with close friends on Instagram, and deprecating the Threads app.”
Instagram further notes that it will be looking to bring the ‘fun and unique features’ of Threads to the main Instagram app, which will likely, eventually, include its auto-status option.
As spotted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Instagram is already working on this, and while this initial prototype doesn’t denote auto status as yet, that seems, logically, where it’s headed, which would essentially negate the need for Threads entirely.
It’s unlikely that the app is going to be missed by many.
In its first month after launch, Threads reached around 374k downloads, which is significantly down on Instagram’s previous standalone apps, like IGTV and Boomerang, while a look at the app’s performance on the App Annie charts since then suggests that Threads has struggled to gain any significant traction ever since. It’s likely that Threads has fewer than 100k users right now – and again, with Meta looking to integrate its messaging options, and facilitate more cross-app sharing, the existence of Threads really runs counter to the broader focus, pointing to its demise.
Instagram says that Threads will no longer be supported by the end of December, with alerts being issued to users in the coming weeks.
If you’re one of the few Threads users, it’s time to revert back to IG proper, or find another alternative for your close group chats (like, say, Snapchat).
UK teen died after ‘negative effects of online content’: coroner
Molly Russell was exposed to online material ‘that may have influenced her in a negative way’ – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Philip FONG
A 14-year-old British girl died from an act of self harm while suffering from the “negative effects of online content”, a coroner said Friday in a case that shone a spotlight on social media companies.
Molly Russell was “exposed to material that may have influenced her in a negative way and, in addition, what had started as a depression had become a more serious depressive illness,” Andrew Walker ruled at North London Coroner’s Court.
The teenager “died from an act of self-harm while suffering depression”, he said, but added it would not be “safe” to conclude it was suicide.
Some of the content she viewed was “particularly graphic” and “normalised her condition,” said Walker.
Russell, from Harrow in northwest London, died in November 2017, leading her family to set up a campaign highlighting the dangers of social media.
“There are too many others similarly affected right now,” her father Ian Russell said after the ruling.
“At this point, I just want to say however dark it seems, there is always hope.
“I hope that this will be an important step in bringing about much needed change,” he added.
The week-long hearing became heated when the family’s lawyer, Oliver Sanders, took an Instagram executive to task.
A visibly angry Sanders asked Elizabeth Lagone, the head of health and wellbeing at Meta, Instagram’s parent company, why the platform allowed children to use it when it was “allowing people to put potentially harmful content on it”.
“You are not a parent, you are just a business in America. You have no right to do that. The children who are opening these accounts don’t have the capacity to consent to this,” he said.
Lagone apologised after being shown footage, viewed by Russell, that “violated our policies”.
Of the 16,300 posts Russell saved, shared or liked on Instagram in the six-month period before her death, 2,100 related to depression, self-harm or suicide, the inquest heard.
Children’s charity NSPCC said the ruling “must be a turning point”.
“Tech companies must be held accountable when they don’t make children’s safety a priority,” tweeted the charity.
“This must be a turning point,” it added, stressing that any delay to a government bill dealing with online safety “would be inconceivable to parents”.
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