If you’re a regular Instagram user, you’ve probably already heard about Meta’s new text-based platform, Threads.
Threads has already caused a stir in the EU over personal data use, which might have you wondering how safe the app is to download and use. Keep reading to learn more about Instagram Threads, the EU and your data.
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Why is Threads unavailable in the EU?
Threads launched in the US, UK and other markets in July 2023, but the app is still markedly absent from app stores in the European Union.
The question is, should you see the delay as a red flag?
The reason behind Threads’ unavailability in the EU ultimately boils down to the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a set of rules that were introduced in 2022. The purpose of the DMA is to limit the market power of big online platforms by banning certain practices and giving the European Commission ample time to carry out market investigations and sanction non-compliant behaviour.
Instead of operating as its own social media platform, Threads requires users to use their Instagram logins to create accounts and post on the app. This means that the two accounts are intrinsically linked – you can’t even delete a Threads account without deleting the Instagram page it is connected to.
In fact, before Threads even launched, the European Court of Justice ruled that Meta’s use of off-Facebook data (including data collected from Instagram and WhatsApp) to provide personalised advertising on Facebook can be considered an infringement of GDPR.
What has Meta said?
Both head of Instagram Adam Mosseri and VP and deputy chief privacy officer for Meta Rob Sherman have spoken out regarding the EU delay.
“There’s been some discussion about why we haven’t launched Threads in the EU yet,” said Sherman in a recent thread.
“We would have liked to offer Threads in the EU at the same time as other markets, and the app does meet GDPR requirements today. But building this offering against the backdrop of other regulatory requirements that have not yet been clarified would potentially take a lot longer, and in the face of this uncertainty, we prioritized offering this new product to as many people as possible.”
Mosseri was also asked about the EU launch during a recording of the New York Times’ Hard Fork podcast.
“It’s not just disclosures and consent. It’s also verifying that there’s no data leakage,” explained Mosseri.
“You have to put in place processes and technology that all but guarantee that anything you say you can verify in usually multiple ways. And so you have to design that system. You have to build that system. You have to build the testing of that system. And then you have to figure out how to communicate that system.”
Regarding the timing of the launch, Mosseri said: “It was either wait on the EU or delay the launch by many, many, many months. And I was worried that our window would close because timing is important.”