So, when will EU users get access to Meta’s new Threads app?
It could take a while, as Meta grapples with 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 what it defines as ‘gatekeeper’ platforms, which are essentially large corporations that have outsized control over how users access apps and other connective processes. The main 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 it will also apply to Meta in this case as well, as Threads is essentially a derivative of Instagram.
That could fall foul of the new rules, or at the least, warrant further investigation, which will require EU authorities to rule on the process, and whether it’s acceptable under the law, while also assessing whether the data sharing between the two apps is clearly explained, and meets the evolving requirements.
EU regulators have established a range of new rules and privacy protections to ensure that users have more choice as to how their data is accessed, and how companies control digital markets, ensuring fairness and competitive balance, along with more user control.
The DMA is just one of several elements of these evolving processes, with another aspect, transatlantic data transfers, also under negotiation between US and EU regulators.
That too has seen significant progress of late, with US President Joe Biden securing a new data transfer agreement just this week. Without agreement, Meta had warned that it would have to cut off EU users from all of its apps.
Threads is now seemingly caught in a state of limbo, till EU regulators assess the full implications of the platform, and how it aligns with these new rules. There’s no definitive time frame on how long it might take to pass these hurdles, and until there’s some insight on how EU regulators view the connection process, and the development of the new app, we don’t have any insight as to how long it might be till the app is available in EU app stores.
Threads has raced to 100 million members in record time, and you can imagine that many EU users are keen to join the party, and see what the new Twitter-like app is all about. As such, once it is finally cleared for EU access (most likely), we can expect another injection of Threads users, which could lead to a secondary growth bump for the app at some stage.
We just don’t know when exactly that will be just yet.