Meta’s Threads has finally arrived in Europe, over five months after rolling out in the US, UK and elsewhere around the world. Following a countdown and Instagram teaser invitation, the app is now officially on the web, with the iOS and Android apps also widely available after a short delay.
I was able to sign in using my Instagram account and Meta also offers access without creating a profile — but you can’t post or interact with content in that case. Once I agreed to use Instagram and chose my profile, it asked if I was okay with it being public and if wanted to follow the same people I do on Instagram. A few more clicks and I was in.
The delay was reportedly due to the EU’s upcoming Digital Markets Act (DMA) set to take effect in 2024. As one of seven tech giant “Gatekeepers,” Meta wanted to ensure it’s in compliance with the DMA, particularly around rules for sharing data between apps. In compliance with EU policies, the app also allows users to access the platform without needing to create a profile.
Threads launched July 5 on mobile with a basic feature set and required users to sign in using their Instagram accounts. It was much like Twitter (now X) when it launched, with support for text posts up to 500 characters, along with photos and five-minute videos. It also supported reposts and quote posts, while allowing users to limit their replies and block/report other users.
Since then, it has added a web version, along with both “following” and “for you” feeds, the ability to send Threads posts on Instagram, following list sorting, liked posts on your profile page and more. In short, it’s become a robust rival to X, Bluesky and its other short-form social media apps.
In addition, yesterday Meta started testing the ability to make Threads posts available on Mastodon and other fediverse apps. That compatibility with the decentralized “ActivityPub” service, and the ability to cross-post to other apps, was a key promise Meta made when it introduced Threads.
Threads’ rise came with the steep decline of Elon Musk’s X, now seen as more polarized than ever. Among much other drama, the platform recently lost a number of key advertisers after Musk boosted an antisemitic conspiracy theory. In response to that, Musk delivered a new message for advertisers pulling back from the platform: “Go fuck yourself.”
Threads is still in a precarious spot, though. It was an instant hit, crossing the 100 million signup mark just five days after launch and counted 141 million users as of November 10, according to research company Quiver Quantitative. However, engagement is another issue — the number of daily active users has fluctuated and dropped steeply a month or so after launch. It should get a massive boost now that it’s in Europe, though, and Meta easily has the might (and money) to make it work and crush both established and potential rivals.
Update 12/17/2023 8:59 AM ET: Story updated to indicate that the iOS and Android apps are now widely available in Europe.
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