Newswise — New users signing up for Threads, Meta’s response to Twitter, should be aware of the app’s data collection capabilities, says a Virginia Tech privacy expert.

“Threads collects user data across 25 different categories, surpassing Twitter’s data collection capabilities,” says Donna Wertalik, a professor of practice in marketing for the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech and Voices of Privacy co-host. 

For more than a decade, Wertalik’s research has focused on the growing importance of information privacy. Wertalik is watching Threads closely and says the current state of the app is akin to Twitter in 2007.

Because the social media platform is so new, there are privacy concerns - specifically when it comes to your data. Essentially, all of your information is fair game for Meta, she said.   

Threads launched in more than 100 countries on July 6, but not the European Union due to privacy concerns tied to two recent rulings. Some of the data Meta can collect on its users includes location, contact information, contacts, user content (photos, videos, messages), search history, and purchase history.   

Wertalik offers these tips for people using the app so they understand what they are signing up for and can protect their privacy.

  1. Decide whether to make your account public or private. This allows the user to control who sees their content.
  2. Understand Threads policy for deleting your account. Meta’s policy prohibits users from deleting their Threads profile without also deleting their Instagram account.  Most apps you can delete, and Wertalik says a policy that forces the consumer to delete both has never been done. “Perhaps this is Meta’s way of  having more control and strategies toward future monetization for Threads.”
  3. Walk through all settings in the app. This will allow the user to in some cases limit what data is collected by the company and third party users. There are seven settings that limit what you see on the app. Two of them limit accessibility to your posted content by other users. Since the app is connected to Instagram, your privacy choices should apply there too.

About Wertalik

Donna Wertalik currently serves as director of marketing strategy and analytics and is a professor of practice in marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. She has diverse corporate and academic experience, training, and acquired skills in the identification of marketing opportunities, brand management, social media engagement and measurement as well as overall product development. Her role encompasses branding, marketing and metrics for the business school, as well as leading the strategic efforts of Pamplin’s Virtual Identity through Virginia Tech’s Social Media Organization, Prism.

About Voices of Privacy

Voices of Privacy is a digital initiative which uses video episodes and other resources to raise general awareness of information privacy issues and educate individuals so they can make informed choices when it comes to protecting their information on different platforms like the web, social media and smartphones. It is hosted by Donna Wertalik and France Bélanger, both faculty members in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.