The company’s delay in launching the service in EU countries has been widely blamed on the bloc’s recent introduction of the Digital Markets Act, a sweeping piece of legislation that’s designed to rein in Big Tech abuses and level the playing field. Although Meta hasn’t named the regulation directly, Instagram head Adam Mosseri blamed the delay on “the complexities with complying with some of the laws coming into effect next year. Companies like Meta, designated as “gatekeepers” under the DMA, have until March 2024 to comply with its requirements.
There’s been speculation that Threads’ tight integration with Instagram could create problems with EU regulators. When it launched in July 2023, users signed up via their existing Instagram accounts and could quickly connect with all of the Instagram users they followed. This reduced friction helped Threads quickly amass 100 million users in a matter of days but raised concerns that Meta could run afoul of the DMA’s rules against self-preferencing.
While Threads caught on quickly, partly thanks to piggybacking off the popularity of Instagram and partly capitalizing on the chaos at Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter), third-party data has suggested that Meta’s platform has struggled to retain users after its initial surge. Its EU launch will almost certainly bring a spike of new users; the question is whether Threads has evolved and added enough new features since launch to hold onto them.