Meta’s Threads app finally launches in the EU

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After a five-month wait, Meta’s latest social media app Threads is now available to people living in the European Union. 

“Today we’re opening Threads to more countries in Europe. Welcome everyone,” wrote Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg on the platform.

Threads is Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to X, formerly Twitter, which has been steadily loosing users since Elon Musk took over last year. 

The social media app, which can only be accessed through Instagram, basically piggybacked off the many controversies at X. The short-text platform works in much the same way as its competitor. From the home section you can interact with other users’ posts, and by using the search icon, you can locate other Threads users.

To coincide with yesterday’s launch, Meta is giving users in the EU the ability to browse Threads without needing a profile. Actually posting or interacting with content will still require an Instagram account, however. 

Threads hit 100 million sign-ups less than a week after its July debut which saw it available in over 100 countries, including the UK. This made it the fastest growing online platform in history, dethroning ChatGPT, which took two months to reach the same number of users. 

These record numbers were achieved despite the fact that Threads wasn’t rolled out in the EU. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) blocked Threads from EU app stores shortly before its release.

The new platform pulls sensitive data from Instagram, including behavioural and advertising information, which risks breaching EU privacy laws, said the authority.  

Many speculated the delay was due to the incoming Digital Markets Act, which addresses a variety of big tech privacy concerns — including sharing content across platforms.  

Although Meta hasn’t named the law directly, Instagram head Adam Mosseri blamed the delay on “the complexities with complying with some of the laws coming into effect next year.” Companies like Meta, designated as “gatekeepers” under the DMA, have until March 2024 to comply with its requirements.

Zuckerberg said in October that Threads had just under 100 million monthly active users, adding that he thinks it could reach as many as one billion in a few years. The EU release is Threads’ biggest expansion since its launch, and opens up some half a billion potential new users to the platform.

The release comes amid further turmoil at Elon Musk’s X.  Following alleged antisemitic comments by Mussk, numerous advertisers, including Apple, Disney, and IBM have paused their ad spending on the platform. The tech tycoon later went on to say that anyone trying to “blackmail” him over advertising money could “go fk themselves.”