Meta Puts EU Access to Threads App on Hold Amid Regulatory Concerns

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July 15, 2023
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Meta, the parent corporation of Instagram, has declared that EU users will no longer be able to use its Threads app via a Virtual Private Network (VPN), addressing several user apprehensions.

Meta expressed that due to privacy-related worries, Threads, which was launched only a week ago, won’t be accessible in the majority of EU countries. As per TechCrunch, Meta confirmed that it had implemented additional measures to restrict EU citizens’ usage of the social media app.

Though Threads can be accessed in over a hundred countries, including the US and UK, the EU has raised queries about Meta’s data-sharing policies.

Despite its unavailability in the EU, Threads has successfully attracted over 100 million users within a week, becoming a strong contender against Twitter. Observers hypothesise that a decrease in Twitter’s user engagement might be due to users exploring or transitioning to Threads.

Nonetheless, Sensor Tower recently noticed a 20% dip in daily active users and overall app usage compared to the previous Saturday. Many have pointed out user engagement retention as one of the challenges, according to ARS Technica.

Meta has also rolled out an update for the iOS version of Threads, introducing iOS 17 compatibility, a reduced binary size, and minor enhancements.

Also Read: “OpenAI Faces FTC Scrutiny over Data Collection and Privacy Practices”

Meta Puts EU Access to Threads App on Hold

Before Meta Proceeds, EU Regulations Must Be Adhered To With the forthcoming Digital Markets Act (DMA), Meta, often regarded as a technological “gatekeeper” in Europe, is keen to ensure that Threads is fully compliant, as reported by Engadget. The EU requires Meta to obtain explicit consent for personalised ads, further complicating the app’s launch in the EU market.

Threads collect user data for targeted ads, including sensitive details like financial and health data, precise location, and search and browsing history. This data collection method raises concerns under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which emphasises data minimisation and limited uses.

Moreover, the DMA imposes extra duties on gatekeeper platforms to scrutinise user activity for targeted ads. Non-compliance with the DMA could result in penalties for Meta, potentially as high as 20% of its global sales or up to 10% of its total income.

Meta is obligated by the DMA to confirm compliance within half a year of the EU’s deadline of September 6, by when all gatekeeper designations will be finalised.

Until Meta resolves these compliance issues, Threads will remain inaccessible to users in several European countries. This situation may hamper the app’s growth, particularly considering recent data from Sensor Tower and Similarweb showing a decrease in daily active users and average usage time.

The number of EU users that used Threads during its peak remains uncertain; however, the consequences of banning VPN access in the EU are noticeable. David Carr, a senior insights manager at Similarweb, noted that while Threads had initially sparked considerable interest, not all users have been consistently active, unlike other social apps.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk, the CEO of Twitter, maintains that despite rumours of reduced Twitter engagement and increased activity on Threads, the average time spent per day by Twitter users is still on the rise.

Saher Mahmood

Saher Mahmood

Author

Saher is a cybersecurity researcher with a passion for innovative technology and AI. She explores the intersection of AI and cybersecurity to stay ahead of evolving threats.

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