- After months of criticism, Meta will finally roll out the ability to delete just Threads while keeping Instagram.
- Threads signups passed 100 million quickly but actual engagement has been underwhelming so far.
- Enabling separate account deletion is an important move to build confidence in privacy controls.
Meta’s text-based social app Threads faced criticism over linking accounts to Instagram and lacking deletion options. Now after months of user complaints, Meta is finally rolling out standalone Threads account deletion starting December 2023.
Threads Users Previously Unable to Delete Accounts
When Threads launched in July 2023, people’s accounts were tied to their Instagram profiles. There was no way to delete just Threads without erasing your entire Instagram presence.
This sparked backlash among privacy advocates, given some only wanted to try Threads temporarily. Meta admitted the linking posed technical challenges for enabling separate deletion.
Initial Concession Was Deactivation and Hiding Options
Meta’s chief privacy officer Michel Protti acknowledged the company focused first on delivering alternative account controls. These included deactivating Threads, making profiles private, and deleting individual messages.
“Technically, it was extremely challenging to allow deletion of a separate Threads account without also deleting your overall Instagram account out of the gate. So we paid particular attention to ensuring the user could still exercise their deletion rights, by deactivating the account to sort of hide all content, setting it to private or deleting individual threads,” Protti said.
But many argued deactivate and hide options fell short of proper account deletion. Calls grew louder for Meta to untether Threads from Instagram deletion requirements.
December Target For Untangling Threads Account Removal
Responding to critics, Meta is now on track to launch standalone Threads account deletion capabilities by December 2023. This will finally let users fully erase Threads while preserving their Instagram presence.
Protti said enabling the feature took months of technical work to untangle accounts on the back end. The update will bring Threads in line with standard social media account controls.
Threads Struggling to Gain Traction Despite 100M Signups
Threads quickly crossed 100 million signups after launching as an Instagram messaging spinoff. However, actual ongoing engagement has proved underwhelming so far.
Despite introducing popular user-requested features like a following feed, web app, and full-text search, engagement on Threads has fallen short of Meta’s hopes.
In a recent Instagram Story AMA, Threads head Adam Mosseri acknowledged more work is needed to boost retention and activity. He stated that improving account recommendations, simplifying messaging, and adding a post edit button are priorities to better serve users.
An analysis found Threads lags behind platforms like Reddit and X (formally Twitter) with just 23.7 million monthly active U.S. users. Meta acknowledges recommendations and messaging need improvement to boost retention.
Overall, the separation of Threads account deletion removes a barrier to broader adoption. But substantial work remains to carve out a unique role versus Instagram itself.
Granting users more granular control over their presence is an important first step toward earning trust and privacy confidence. But only consistently delivering unique value will determine whether Threads can ultimately thrive.