Threads, the anti-X, arrives in Europe

Threads, the anti-X, arrives in Europe

21 December 2023 Off By Oscar Giacomin

On December 14th at 12 p.m., Meta’s new app Threads also landed in Europe, following its debut in July in the rest of the world. Bureaucratic issues, particularly non-compliance with regulations for online services outlined in the Digital Markets Act (the European regulation on digital markets that came into force last November and has been applicable since May ‘22) kept it away from the Old Continent. More specifically, the app, which originated as part of Instagram, did not comply with a rule that requires, in the absence of user consent, a prohibition on combining data collected across different platforms, such as personalized ads.

Now that the issue has been resolved, those in Europe who sign up for Threads can link it to their Instagram profile and use all its functions, or they can just view content, share it via links from the platform, and search profiles without, however, interacting.

The new app adds to Mark Zuckerberg’s social media portfolio, which already includes Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and is the answer to X (formerly Twitter) now owned by Elon Musk. Indeed, when comparing the two platforms, it’s evident that the graphical interface is very similar. The home of Threads, like on X, is divided between ‘For You’ and ‘Already Following,’ and even composing a new Thread (as the posts on this social network are called) is practically identical to posting on X. However, there is a significant difference: Threads lacks ‘Trending Topics,’ the most discussed themes of the day. This absence could make it more difficult to compete on equal terms with X, giving the latter a slight advantage over its newborn twin.

Threads has the advantage of seeming a much more ‘real’ environment compared to X, in the sense that there seem to be far fewer fake accounts and ‘trolls.’ Registration via Instagram, in fact, means that the Instagram account acts as a passport to access the new social network, which could reduce issues like hate speech. Another positive aspect not to be underestimated is related to the reporting system. On X/Twitter, the reporting guidelines have always been much less stringent than those adopted on Instagram and Meta in general. Since Musk’s arrival as owner, their effectiveness has further decreased, while Meta is stricter, which will allow maintaining less controversial digital spaces on Threads.

But how is Threads performing where it has been active for months? At the end of October, Zuckerberg stated that the app has nearly 100 million active monthly users and that there is a good chance it could become the next Meta app to reach a billion users within two years. Threads’ initial performance was erratic: thanks to the integration with Instagram, after an initial boom in subscribers, user engagement data quickly plummeted. According to the research company, Threads reached 150 million downloads faster than any other app in history, pushing Meta’s creation to the top spot for overall downloads in the third quarter of 2023, with 236 million downloads, surpassing TikTok’s 229 million downloads. However, 80% of those downloads came in July, the first month after launch.

Recently, Threads seems to have taken off again. With the launch in Europe, Meta is targeting a market with 458 million users. The hope is that these users will start flocking to the platform, especially in light of recent discontent with the direct competitor X/Twitter. We’ll remain curious to see who comes out as the winner.


Oscar Giacomin  / General Manager, Facto Edizioni

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