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Private communication with Instagram threads?

3 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
Tool description
Copyright: FSM e.V.

For many young people, it is normal to let others peek into their everyday lives through pictures and videos on social networks. However, some moments are so personal that you don’t want to share them with all your Instagram friends and followers, but only with selected people. For this purpose, Instagram has developed the filter function for “close friends” and, with Instagram Threads , a matching Messenger app.

In a nutshell:

  • free messenger app for iOS and Android
  • Connection with your own Instagram account
  • works on the smartphone even without installing Instagram
  • Photos, stories, and direct messages are shared only with selected people
  • Minimum age according to TOS: 13 years

What can Instagram Threads do?

With Instagram threads, communication is limited to the self-determined close circle of friends. When you open the app, the camera opens directly. The app is so reminiscent of Snapchat. Photos, Stories, and your own status can be shared and messages exchanged with selected friends. Best friends can send photos to each other via speed dial with just one click. A special feature is the auto status, which the app can create automatically from its own location and movement data. This shows friends whether you are currently at home, on vacation or eating pizza downtown, for example.

One advantage of Threads is that you can use it without the original Instagram app on your smartphone if you just want to check your Instagram messages from time to time.

What fascinates young people about it?

The app is reduced to sending messages and photos with friends. You can check the news without being distracted by the latest pictures and stories of all your subscribed Instagram profiles. It’s more about sharing photos and messages with closer contacts.

Instagram is not only used by young people, but also by many adults and all kinds of celebrities and companies. This means that young people are not really “among themselves” – but with threads they are.

What can be problematic about the offer?

Although the app promises more privacy because you only communicate with “close friends” via it, at the same time you do without it when you activate the auto status. If your child decides to do so, the app permanently collects data about where your child is, how fast he or she is moving and what his or her battery level currently is. Then not only the app providers, but also everyone in your friends list will know where you are.

Many influencers have discovered the “close friends” feature as a way to make money. People can pay to be added to their list and then receive exclusive and/or private content from their Instagram likes. This has nothing to do with friendship and privacy, it’s all about making money.

What does the provider think?

With parental consent, children are allowed to create an Instagram account when they are 13 years old. According to Instagram, the location and movement data it needs for Auto Status will not be used for advertising purposes. However, they are collected all the time, even when the app is not in use.

What should parents pay attention to?

If you decide to agree to the use of Instagram threads, you should go through the account with your child and the settings together. Talk about the consequences of sharing your location in Stories or Status and define in the settings which data the app can and cannot access.

The app only adds value if you really only communicate with good friends through it. Your child should definitely only add people to the “close friends” list that he or she knows. Set rules together about what content your child should and should not share. You can refer to our “Legal notices for social media use” for guidance.

Try to understand why it is important to your child to share a status or certain personal information. Discuss the dangers and risks so your child can understand them. Talking openly about this is important so your child knows they can confide in you if harassment, upsetting content, and cyberbullying occur.

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