Bad news for EU residents who are keen to try out Meta’s new Twitter-like Threads app, with Instagram chief Adam Mosseri saying that it’ll likely be ‘many months’ before the app is available in the region.
Threads has been made available virtually everywhere but Europe, due to the expanding requirements of the EU Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is designed to protect user privacy, and provide control over data usage, while also mitigating monopoly-type behavior by the tech giants.
The DMA specifically takes aim at large corporations that have outsized control over how users access apps and other connective processes. A key aim of the act is to stop Google and Apple from misusing their market power to prioritize their own products (which, incidentally, Meta is trying to use to establish its own app store in the region), but in this context, that also applies to Meta, as Threads is essentially a derivative of Instagram.
As such, Meta will need to wait to ensure that Threads ticks off all the boxes, while also ensuring the app meets all the other elements outlined in the updated regulations.
As explained by Mosseri (via his latest Instagram Story):
“Unfortunately, for support in the EU, to make sure that we’re compliant with laws that are coming in 2024 it’s just gonna’ take a while. I wish it wasn’t - I’ve been living outside the US for a year now, and I think we need to be way less US-centric as a team, [and] I’ve been pushing for that in a really big way. But it just turns out that in order to make sure that we can verify all the things we need to do to be compliant, it’s just going to take many months, unfortunately.”
Some EU users had found ways to mitigate the current restrictions, by accessing Threads via VPN, but last week, Meta put a stop to that, cutting off VPN user access in the region.
As a result, EU users are now locked out of the shiny new app, meaning that they’ll have to stick with Twitter instead, at least for the time being.
Yet, even without EU users, Threads is already up to 114 million members, and is still rising, despite reports that engagement in the app has declined significantly from its hyped launch.
Late last week, Sensor Tower reported that daily active users in Threads had declined by around 20%, while average time spent had shrunk by half, as users drifted from the new experience. Part of that is due to the limited current feature set, while it’s also using your Instagram graph as a proxy for Threads content recommendations, which may not be the most effective linkage between the two platforms.
Indeed, Mosseri has further noted that Threads has a long way to go in getting up to speed, though Threads retention, he says, has been better than expected, as has engagement - though he didn’t share any specific data at this stage.
But really, it is early stages, and you can expect that engagement will continue to shift until it can round out its features. A follow feed, a desktop app, improved recommendations – Threads needs all of these things to be on the same level as other apps, and until these elements are added, it’s difficult to make any indicative comparison.
But the fact that so many people are interested, and have enjoyed the Threads experience, is a major first step. Instagram needs to work fast to maximize that interest, but it is starting from a solid foundation – even without EU users at this stage.