The social media world lit up last week when Meta (aka Facebook) finally launched their Twitter competitor to the wider world. Only they didn’t release it in Europe. Let’s explore why that is, when it will come to Europe, and what users can expect from the ‘new’ kid on the social media block.  

It was reported by Meta that Threads has reached 100 million users in under a week – a stunning achievement for a new social media service. Immediately, it put smaller competitors like Mastodon and BlueSky in the dust. Mastodon’s appeal has waned as it’s complicated to set up and use, and BlueSky is still stuck in invite-only mode. Threads simply plugs into the network you already have on Instagram to get you going, which is its killer feature. 

What is Threads?

Threads Profile Example

Threads is a text-based social media app, that looks and behaves a lot like Twitter, but is much different. First, it’s an offshoot of Instagram, not Facebook. You need an Instagram account to sign-up (right now, at least), and you can port over all the people you follow (and all your followers will be notified you’re on Threads, and they can follow you there as well). But it is disconnected from Instagram – when you’re in the Instagram App you cannot see Threads posts or vice versa – it’s a completely separate app.  

The main function is that you can post text updates, called Threads, that people can like, reshare and reply to (which creates a conversation thread). You can also share images and up to five minutes of video content. Meta made it clear that they are not cloning Instagram; they are creating something new – so the emphasis isn’t on images or video but rather the conversations generated by text-based posts. 

What’s it like?

Threads Feed Example

Threads has now been out for a week, and it’s already beginning to develop its own vibe and way of doing things. The biggest thing is that it’s a huge breath of fresh air. It does not seem to have attracted the nastier elements of Twitter, so the ‘good’ people that were on Twitter and left have a new place to share their thoughts. Personally, I found some interesting new people to follow. I chose to follow most of the people I was already following on Instagram (and a few from Twitter who made the move). People are using it differently than just reshaping what they share elsewhere. There is definitely ‘new’ content.  

Overall, things are happy and positive. So far. Everyone just seems happy to be there and that there is a new place to reach a wide audience. Other Twitter clones, like Mastodon or BlueSky, just haven’t reached the critical mass of users that Threads now has. You’re not posting into an empty void on Threads. I still would not discount Mastodon and BlueSky, but Threads is here to stay, despite it being so new.  

Not Available in Europe (or Ireland)

Threads has not been launched in Europe yet, including Ireland. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri explained that this is due to complexities with complying with certain laws that will come into effect next year and with existing GDPR regulations. While he did not specifically mention the coming Digital Markets Act (DMA) or GDPR, his comment suggests that it may be the reason why Threads is not yet available in the EU. Mosseri emphasised the importance of ensuring compliance and compatibility before launching anything, and Meta is taking the necessary time to do so. The DMA sets competition rules for major digital gatekeepers, including Meta, to prevent them from favouring their own services and to ensure compatibility with competitors’ messaging services.   

Basically, they don’t feel the need to comply with EU regulations until they NEED to (which is, frankly, the attitude of a lot of American tech companies to EU regulations). So, Ireland and the EU are left out of the fun of this new social network for now. As the United Kingdom left the EU, they have access to Threads, and there is already a vibrant community of British Threads users.  

Still, Meta can’t say no to almost 450 million potential users forever, so it’s inevitable that Threads will be made available in the EU. The big sticking point is privacy – the Threads app asks for a lot of personal information about you and tracks you everywhere, just like other Meta apps do. Most American users don’t really care about these things, but that’s the big difference in attitudes between Americans and Europeans on privacy. 

Features Lacking

The Compose Thread Window

Threads is not perfect. While the app is pretty polished and usable, there are some key missing features. For example, there’s no web version, so you can only post from the mobile app (you can however, see ‘threads’ on the web, you just can’t interact with them). There’s also no API, so social media managers can’t use it with scheduling tools they’re already using. You also can’t direct message, and there are some muting/blocking features not available yet that seem standard elsewhere. Threads overlords have been very clear that many of these things will be coming; they just couldn’t have it all ready on day one. The feed is also completely algorithmic right now and shows you posts not just from people you follow but people they want you to see (including big-name influencers you don’t (or want to) follow). This may not appeal to a lot of people, but they promise a chronological and more granular feed control later on. Still, I’ve found some interesting posts and new people to follow with the new feed. 

There are also some annoyances with your account – like it’s a pain to switch between multiple Threads accounts (you have to essentially log out and log back in, no quick switching). There’s also the problem that if you want to delete your Threads account, you will be deleting your Instagram account because, in Meta’s eyes, they are the SAME account. They have said they will separate it out in the future. But until then, if you try Threads, and don’t like it – DO NOT DELETE IT – if you want to keep your Instagram account. 

Blacknight is not on Threads yet; as an EU-based company, we can’t set up an account just yet. But I’m on Threads personally (since I’m in the USA) and so is Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon (if you have a US Apple App Store account, you can download the app and set it up, but it looks like Meta is blocking access to EU IP addresses even with an account). We’ll be covering Threads as it develops, and we’ll let you know when it’s available for everyone in the EU. 

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