Meta’s Rival to Elon Musk’s X Launches in the EU

Meta’s social media platform, Threads, has finally been launched in the European Union, arriving five months after its global release in other regions.

This platform debuted amid considerable excitement, positioning itself as a competitor to Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter. However, it hadn’t been accessible in the EU due to the region’s stringent data and tech regulations.

Meta aims to ignite interest in the platform, which initially garnered over 100 million users within its first week, although those numbers later tapered off. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO, announced this development via a Threads post, extending a warm welcome to new European users.

According to a Meta spokesperson, significant enhancements have been made to the platform since its initial launch in July elsewhere. The lack of fundamental features like a website and search functionality had contributed to the waning interest among early users.

As of now, individuals in the EU can opt to create a Threads profile linked to their Instagram accounts for a uniform experience globally or use Threads without a profile, starting from today.

Within three weeks of its debut, Threads lost half of its user base, but subsequent updates and introductions of new features helped regain most of them. Nevertheless, Threads lags behind X in popularity and boasts notably fewer users compared to platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, which are also under the Meta umbrella.

EU Delay Meta hasn’t officially clarified the reason for the delayed launch of Threads in the EU. Speculation suggests it’s due to the bloc’s stringent regulatory environment.

In July, a Meta spokesperson told The Verge that the delay was due to “upcoming regulatory uncertainty.” The EU’s Digital Services Act, effective from August, imposes fresh responsibilities on major tech firms to safeguard users on expansive social platforms. These regulations cover aspects like advertising to minors and mandating more transparency concerning algorithms to regulators.

Threads requests access to various data on users’ devices, including location data, purchase history, and browsing habits. It’s yet unknown if the app has undergone substantial changes to comply with the EU’s regulations.

However, in October, Meta announced plans to introduce subscription services across most of Europe, eliminating ads from all its platforms. This move was designed to address concerns raised by the EU. Earlier in January, Meta faced a €390 million fine for violating EU data regulations related to ads.

The subscription model is exclusively available to individuals in the EU, European Economic Area, and Switzerland, excluding the UK.