Meta-owned social media platform Threads, initially launched in July 2023, has expanded its reach to the European Union. This significant expansion comes after a five-month wait and follows its successful debut in the United States and over 100 other countries, including the United Kingdom.
Meta’s chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg announced the EU launch on Threads, expressing excitement about opening the platform to more European countries. “Today we’re opening Threads to more countries in Europe. Welcome everyone ????,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Threads.
Threads offers a unique feature allowing EU users to browse content without a profile, a step towards enhancing user privacy and compliance with EU laws. However, full interaction with content, such as posting or replying, still requires an Instagram account. The launch in the EU marks a strategic move for Meta, targeting the 448 million potential users in this region. Threads had previously restricted EU access, including blocking VPN usage to comply with EU regulations.
The delay in Threads’ EU launch is attributed to the challenges of complying with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a comprehensive legislation aimed at curbing Big Tech dominance and promoting fair competition. Despite not directly citing DMA, Meta’s strategies indicate efforts to align with these regulations.
Originally, Threads closely integrated with Instagram, allowing users to seamlessly connect with Instagram contacts. However, this integration raised concerns about self-preferencing under DMA rules. In response, Meta adjusted the integration, allowing separate account deletions for Threads and Instagram, though some links between the services persist.
Threads achieved rapid user growth at its launch, benefiting from Instagram’s popularity and the tumultuous period at Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter). Yet, it has faced challenges in retaining users post-launch. The EU expansion is seen as a crucial step to not only attract new users but also to test whether the platform has evolved enough to maintain user engagement over time.