Threads, Meta’s eagerly awaited rival to Twitter, has been delayed in Europe due to regulatory concerns, according to the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The primary obstacle to Meta’s introduction is the Digital Markets Act of the European Union, which addresses the sharing of user data across platforms.
While Threads will start as planned in the UK and the US, the firm has chosen to delay its launch in Europe until it receives further information from the European Commission.
Meta and EU are having issues
The delay of Meta’s Threads launch in Europe is largely due to the Digital Markets Act (DMA) of the European Union. The DMA seeks to control the conduct of significant online platforms and to encourage just competition in the digital economy.
The sharing of user data between platforms is one of the DMA’s main stipulations. The European launch of Threads has been postponed while Meta waits for additional information from the European Commission regarding how this regulation will be applied.
Tech businesses and regulatory skeptics have long argued that laws like the DMA stifle innovation by mandating onerous user rights. Still, Meta continues to provide new products and hasn’t said it will forego a European launch due to the impending competition law.
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Even though it initially hurts Threads’ popularity, the DMA actually creates friction to hold down new launches and push companies to consider how they will protect consumers. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as businesses wait for additional guidelines later this fall. Another unanswered question is whether adhering to European regulations will harm the design that has allowed Threads to expand so swiftly.
The DMA forbids large corporations like Meta from using a user’s name and location, as well as other personal information across several products, for targeted advertising without the user’s permission.
In its own privacy statement, Meta admits that it gathers and utilizes data from all of its products to show customers adverts. According to information from Apple’s App Store, Threads may be able to gather a variety of personal information, including contacts and search history, location, and health information.
Will Threads ever be available in Europe?
It might take some time as Meta struggles to meet the growing demands of the EU Digital Markets Act (DMA), which aims to preserve user privacy, give users control over how their data is used, and reduce monopolistic conduct by internet giants. The DMA explicitly targets “gatekeeper” platforms, which it characterizes as being big businesses with excessive control over how customers access apps and other connected activities.
The main goal of the act is to prevent Google and Apple from abusing their market dominance to give their own products preference (which, incidentally, Meta is trying to do to open its own app store in the region). Still, it will also apply to Meta in this case as Threads is essentially an Instagram derivative.
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Due to earlier EU interference, Meta was already compelled to discontinue certain of its goods. 2020 saw the start of an investigation by Germany’s competition authorities on Meta for requiring Facebook logins from Oculus (now Quest) virtual reality headset customers in order to access their accounts.
Last year, Meta gave in and released the social accounts’ ties to the headsets. Similar issues, but more expensive ones, could arise for Meta as a result of Threads’ Instagram login requirement. The DMA permits further non-financial remedies in addition to fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s annual revenue for infractions and even up to 20 percent for repeated infringements.
Featured image credit: Reuters