Is Your Privacy Safe with Threads? 

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privacy safe threads

As Meta’s Threads reaches over 100 million users, concerns about the Twitter rival's data privacy and security continue to run rife. 

The long-awaited social media app, which launched last Thursday after suddenly appearing in the app store earlier in the week, has faced widespread criticism for its large-scale collection of its users’ data. 

And people have a right to be concerned. Powered by users’ Instagram data, Threads collects more data than many other popular social media platforms and is owned by Meta – a company notorious for pulling data to profile users for ads.

The app was also forced to delay its launch in the European Union (EU) due to its data transfer practices, in what Meta spokesperson Christine Pai described as “upcoming regulatory uncertainty,” reportedly referring to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The DMA prevents large companies like Meta from transferring peoples’ sensitive data across its products for targetted advertising without their consent. 

And since Meta transfers data between Instagram and Threads through the integration of the two apps, It therefore cannot launch Threads in the EU until it finds a work-around.

It’s not Thread’s data transfers that have people concerned, however. In fact, experts have even gone as far as to say that the launch of Threads proves Meta plans ramp up data hauling to the extent of apps like TikTok. 

But how much data does Threads really collect, and is it safe for users wishing to protect their privacy? Here’s everything you need to know about data privacy and security on Threads.

How much Data does Threads actually collect?

To put it simply, Threads collects a lot of data. The platform’s “data linked to you” section, listed below its App Store description, reveals the magnitude of data Meta takes from users. And the list is several times longer than the description for the app itself. 

From browsing history to location, to “sensitive data”, Threads collects extensive amounts of data, all of which it uses for advertising and marketing personalisation. This will allow it to tailor ads to users, and ultimately increase profits from every ad campaign. 

meta app privacy
Data Threads collects from users, as displayed in Apple App Store. 

Threads does not currently run ads despite its owner Meta’s history of extensive advertising operations. But make no mistake, Mark Zuckerberg said that ads will be run on the platform as soon as Meta gets its hands on enough lucrative data. 

For now, Meta plans to use data from user accounts to power internal company projects, including the development of AI products. 

This is in direct contrast to Threads’ biggest competitor Twitter, which recently limited the number of Tweets a user can read due to “to address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation,” according to Musk.

Looking at Twitter’s own privacy label, the tweeting app does still pull users’ browsing history, purchase history, contacts and more, but its list of “data linked to you” on the app store is notably shorter than threads’

Twitter users, including former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, have therefore been publicly critical of Threads' move to use its users' data to train its own products. 

“All your threads beyond to us,” Dorsey tweeted, referencing Threads’ privacy policy and criticising the app’s harvesting of data on the app. 

It should be noted, however, that Thread's privacy policy for Threads is in no way worse than other data from other Meta social media apps, such as Instagram or Facebook. 

In fact, both apps collect the same amount of data, and the only difference is that Threads does not use the data it collects to track users. But it is likely Threads will ramp up its harvesting as the app becomes more popular.

After all, it has only been less than a week since the app’s launch, and Zuckerberg doesn’t want to discourage people from downloading the app. 

Does Threads cost you your privacy?

There’s no doubt that Threads’ collects a lot of data. But for people that already use Instagram, you are in no way losing any sort of privacy by downloading Threads today. 

For those that don’t have an Instagram account, however, Threads may not be the best option if you’re looking for a social media app that protects your privacy. 

To read more about data privacy, visit our dedicated Data Management Page. 

Of course, all social media apps come with their own drawbacks, and almost all of them collect data from their users – whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok or Twitter. And any app can change its privacy policy at any time with a quick update. 

There are, however, several ways that users can protect their privacy while using social media apps on a smartphone.

For example, you simply use a VPN or a private browser such as DuckDuckGo to remove the app’s access to data such as location or other apps.

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