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Threads: what is it, and more importantly, is it safe?

Threads, which is owned by Meta - the company behind Facebook and Instagram - has already attracted over 10 million users, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is hellbent on going head-to-head with Twitter owner Elon Musk. But security concerns have been raised about the new app.



Posting on the new app under the username Zuck and using a 'mind blown' emoji, Mr Zuckerberg wrote: “10 million sign up in seven hours!”, clearly excited and proud of his new venture.


This remark came as social media fans, influencers, celebrities, businesses, betting firms, media agencies, news and sports outlets and just about anyone who 'needed to be in that place' flocked to the new app owned by Zuckerberg's company, Meta.


Thread users will be hoping that this latest social offering will be trouble free, as many changes to Twitter, under Elon Musk's ownership, have left users of that platform perplexed and frustrated with Musk's new developments, which include the elimination of verified legacy accounts, an option to pay for a 'blue tick' without any form of 'due diligence' as to the account authenticity, a limit on the number of Tweets a user is allowed to view on a daily basis, and modifications to Twitter's dashboard application, Tweetdeck.


But what is Threads; is it worthy of the hype and is it safe? Allow us to provide responses to some of the most frequently asked questions on the internet about Threads, which might make you decide whether or not you need it both personally and professionally.


What exactly is Threads?


The new social media app is like Twitter, but prioritises text posts, although when combined with imagery, it begins to look like a hybrid of Twitter and Instagram, the latter also being owned by Meta. There are no hashtags or trending topics, and some of its functions are basic at the point of launch.


It permits users to publish up to 500 characters of text (surpassing Twitter's measly 280 character allowance), as well as links, images, and up to five minutes of video footage per Thread.


How do you sign up?


The Threads app can be downloaded onto an Android or iOS device from the Google Play Store or the Apple Pay Store.


Individuals who already have an Instagram account can sign in with their login credentials, and users can choose whether they want a private or public profile before beginning to post.



How does the app compare to Twitter?


On the surface, Threads looks very similar to Twitter, with an Instagram sheen. It includes options to post, quote a thread, search, like and reply to posts and view ‘activity’ linked to what you post - which is likewise true for Twitter through ‘notifications’.


Threads appears to have copied Twitter's column-based design, with users scrolling vertically through the app to see what others are posting.


There is also a verification alternative, which currently appears to give a blue verified tick to Instagram accounts that are already verified.


What distinguishes the app from Twitter?


Unlike Twitter, Threads currently doesn't enable users to message one another directly (no sliding into someone's DMs, then), and there is no desktop version.


Lists, bookmarks, and the ability to join communities are other features of Twitter that Threads lacks.


As stated above, there are no hashtags, and the ability to find words and phrases posted by users rather than the names of specific accounts - which was previously simple on Twitter - appears to be limited.


Are there any concerns about security or privacy?


Many people have expressed concern about the app's handling of personal data, and the app did not launch in the European Union (EU) due to this concern and the implementation of the EU's Digital Markets Act.


There remains ambiguity about how the app will utilise user data, but many people, including Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, have raised concerns about its launch.


"All your Threads belong to us," he wrote, together with an extensively shared screenshot of Threads' privacy section on the App Store, which indicates the app will gather data such as financial information, contacts, and past browsing habits.


With every social media platform comes concern, and if you are a business owner looking to jump on the Threads bandwagon, do so with the same caution as you would with any platform.


The below video takes a whimsical look at the new app, and also talks about security concerns.



 

Reporting

Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).

 

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The contents of blog posts on this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of East Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre (EMCRC) is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. EMCRC provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us by email.

 

EMCRC does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this blog. EMCRC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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