Threads launches in the European Union
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, has announced the availability of Threads, Meta’s Twitter competitor, in the European Union. In a post on Threads, Zuckerberg stated, “Today we’re opening Threads to more countries in Europe.”
The launch in the EU follows the service’s initial debut in the United States and over 100 other countries, including the UK, in July 2023. Previously inaccessible to the 448 million people in the EU, Threads had been blocked for EU-based users trying to access the service via VPN.
To coincide with the European launch, Meta is allowing users in the region to browse Threads without requiring a profile. However, posting or engaging with content still necessitates an Instagram account.
The delay in launching Threads in EU countries has been attributed to the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a comprehensive legislative measure introduced by the EU to curb Big Tech abuses and foster fair competition. Although Meta did not explicitly mention the DMA, Instagram head Adam Mosseri attributed the delay to “the complexities with complying with some of the laws coming into effect next year.” Meta, classified as a “gatekeeper” under the DMA, must comply with its requirements by March 2024.
Speculation has arisen regarding potential issues with EU regulators due to Threads’ close integration with Instagram. Initially, users signed up using their existing Instagram accounts, facilitating quick connections with all followed Instagram users. This seamless integration led to Threads amassing 100 million users rapidly, but concerns were raised about potential violations of the DMA’s rules against self-preferencing.
While Threads has loosened its ties with Instagram since its launch in July 2023, retaining the ability for users to delete their Threads account without deleting their Instagram account in mid-November, the link between the services persists. An Instagram account is still required for posting on Threads.
Despite Threads’ initial rapid growth, leveraging the popularity of Instagram and taking advantage of the tumult at Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter), third-party data suggests that Meta’s platform has struggled to retain users beyond the initial surge. The EU launch is expected to bring a surge of new users, raising questions about whether Threads has evolved and introduced sufficient new features to retain them.