Meta, the parent company of Instagram, recently launched its new app, Threads, which gained immense popularity with over 100 million users within a week of its global release. However, European Union (EU) citizens are unable to download the app due to regulatory uncertainties related to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). As new developments have come up over the last few days, we seek to examine the reasons behind the delay of Threads in Europe and how the DMA impacts Meta’s ability to connect Instagram to Threads accounts.
Regulatory Uncertainty and the DMA:
According to Meta spokesperson Christine Pai, the delay of Threads in Europe is attributed to “upcoming regulatory uncertainty,” likely referring to the EU’s DMA. Critics of such regulations argue that they impede innovation by imposing extensive user protections. However, the DMA does not prevent Meta from introducing new products, but it adds friction to the launch process, requiring companies to evaluate user protection measures before releasing them.
Data Mixing and Advertising:
DMA’s Impact on Self-Preferencing:
The DMA prohibits gatekeepers like Meta from giving preferential treatment to their own products over competitors’ offerings, a practice known as “self-preferencing.” While Threads’ requirement to connect Instagram accounts is not a clear violation of self-preferencing, it raises concerns. Utilizing Instagram’s popularity to promote the new app could be perceived as self-preferencing, potentially leading to regulatory complications.
Possible Solutions and Compliance:
Meta has previously faced regulatory interventions in Europe and had to adjust its products accordingly. The DMA allows for fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s annual revenue for violations and additional nonfinancial remedies. To comply with the DMA, Meta could consider allowing users to create Threads accounts solely with their emails, bypassing the Instagram login requirement. However, this may introduce additional challenges and potentially affect the app’s growth.
Meta’s Commitment to Compliance:
Rob Sherman, Meta’s chief privacy officer, acknowledged that Threads meets the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements but highlighted the need to address other yet-to-be-clarified regulatory obligations. Meta’s priority was to make the app available to as many people as possible while ensuring compliance with regulations.
The delay of Threads in Europe due to the EU’s Digital Markets Act demonstrates the impact of regulatory frameworks on technology companies. The DMA’s rules on data mixing and self-preferencing create challenges for Meta, requiring the company to evaluate its practices and ensure compliance. While the delay may disappoint European users, it also reflects the EU’s commitment to enforcing regulations and protecting user interests. Meta aims to launch Threads in Europe in the future, potentially with improved features and enhanced privacy protections, as it works towards meeting regulatory requirements.