October 3, 2019 / 4:41 PM / a month ago

Facebook's Instagram launches Snapchat-like 'Threads' app

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Thursday it was launching a separate camera-first messaging app, “Threads”, for its photo-sharing platform Instagram, stepping up the company’s social media war with smaller rival Snapchat.

The launch of the app, which like Snapchat and Instagram is centered around photos but is more focused on keeping users connected with small groups of friends, knocked 5% off Snap Inc’s shares in afternoon trading.

Through Threads, users can upload status, share location and battery status with their close friends on Instagram, the social media company said in a blog here post.

Facebook has been focusing on Instagram, its fastest-growing revenue generator, as its core platform has been under scrutiny from regulators regarding privacy and spread of misinformation or fake news.

Users can also enable “auto status” feature, which would automatically update their battery life and status based on current location, the company said, adding that the feature is an opt-in.

Precise location information collected for auto status will be specific to Threads and will not be used for ads, Facebook said.

“The way we use data from other parts of Facebook and Instagram to deliver relevant ads to you remains the same,” the company said.

Instagram launched "Close Friends" feature in November last year, allowing users to share their stories with a smaller group of people. (reut.rs/30EVhHv)

Shares of Facebook were up 2.2% at $178.48.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

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