As the excitement around Meta Threads microblogging platform. Threads, grows, opportunistic individuals are taking advantage of its unavailability in certain regions. Despite not being officially accessible in the European Union (EU), China, or Russia due to data privacy and antitrust concerns, some EU citizens have found ways to download and use the app.
Threads, also known as “Threads, an Instagram app,” is a creation of Meta’s Instagram team. To utilize it, users must have an existing Instagram account. However, the collection of potentially sensitive information by Threads raises privacy concerns since Meta likely intends to merge this data with that gathered from Instagram and Facebook for targeted advertising purposes. Consequently, launching the app in the EU has been delayed.
Overcoming Access Barriers
Although Threads cannot be downloaded from official European Android and iOS app stores and lacks desktop compatibility officially, workarounds exist. These loopholes present opportunities for malicious actors seeking to exploit user demand amidst these limitations.
Various apps leveraging the popularity of Threads have surfaced on Apple’s App Store. These deceptive applications confuse users into downloading them unwittingly. One such example was “Threads for Insta,” developed by SocialKit Ltd based in Tel Aviv. Although there is no evidence suggesting outright malice associated with this content generator app that allowed AI-powered post creation; it misrepresented itself using the popular Threads brand to increase downloads.
Researchers at cybersecurity startup Veriti warn against over 700 domains registered daily related to Threads offering unofficial Android versions outside Google’s Play Store through cloud-based file hosting services like MediaFire or third-party platforms. While no malicious activity has been detected within these downloadable apps thus far according to Veriti researchers; they continue monitoring any potential changes made by site owners regarding file version/payloads.
User Guidance: Staying Safe
Scammers are quick to exploit the popularity of software products, often distributing malware or attempting to steal user credentials and sensitive information.
This trend has been witnessed before when scammers took advantage of the AI wave and users’ demand for ChatGPT. They employed various deceptive tactics, including:
- Fake mobile apps designed to defraud users.
- Chrome extensions that hijack Facebook accounts.
- A counterfeit ChatGPT desktop client aimed at stealing Chrome login data.
- Information-stealing malware and phishing pages.
To protect themselves, users must exercise caution when downloading any content. Official app stores should be the preferred source; however, as demonstrated earlier, even they can harbor unwanted or malicious lookalikes. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the Threads app being downloaded originates from Meta/Instagram rather than third-party developers. Stay vigilant!
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