Threads, the text-based social network from Facebook and Instagram owner Meta, has just added the one feature I wanted it to – and judging by my For You feed, I'm not the only person who's pleased. The new feature lives in your app's Settings menu and enables you to opt out of automatic post sharing. It was being rolled out over the weekend so if you don't already have it, it will be along shortly.
Automatic post sharing, it's fair to say, wasn't universally popular. The feature, which you originally couldn't opt out of, took posts you'd made on Threads and shared them with other people on Facebook and Instagram.
The goal was to raise awareness of and promote engagement with Threads, but it's a good example of tech firms rolling out a feature without thinking of the potential downsides. Not everybody wants to share the same content across multiple social networks, especially if they don't have a say in what gets shared.
How to disable automatic post sharing in Threads
The opt-out is in Settings in both the web-based interface and in the Threads app (or at least it's supposed to be; there appears to be a glitch on the web-based version today that means I'm not getting the Settings page at all).
If you go into Settings > Privacy you'll now see an option that says Suggesting Posts On Other Apps. Tap on that and you'll see two toggles, one for Instagram and one for Facebook. You can turn the toggles off for both networks, or for just one of them. Or of course you can leave both on.
It's a welcome change but it should have been there from the beginning. There are often very good reasons why people keep their different social networks separate; I know I do, so for example while I use all three of Meta's social networks – Threads, Facebook and Instagram – I don't connect to the same people on each network, and I don't share the same content to all three either. To me, sharing on Instagram is an informal thing for amusing my friends; Facebook is more like posting a declaration up on a town hall noticeboard; and I'm not quite sure what Threads is for yet.
Hopefully the user irritation at the post sharing feature will encourage Meta to think a bit deeper in future: a lot of our social networks would be a lot better if the people who built them stopped to think "hey, is there any way this could be a problem?" before rolling them out rather than waiting for users to find the really obvious flaws.