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6 July 2023

Meta’s Threads App: An EU Privacy Disaster

Read about Threads, a new social media app challenging Twitter.
Meta’s Threads App: An EU Privacy Disaster

Meta recently launched its latest offering in the social media landscape, called Threads.

As users eagerly delve into this new platform, it's worth examining its features, compliance with regulations, and its potential impact on the digital realm.

Let’s dive in.


What is Threads?

Meta Threads has made a grand entrance into the social media space, capturing the curiosity and attention of users.

Released in 100 countries on the 5th July 2023, Threads has been described as an “alternative Twitter”, where it aims to entice users away from its struggling competitor by offering a platform that closely mimics Twitter's features and functionalities, without all of Musk’s controversies.

The debut of Threads showcased a user-friendly and intuitive interface that seamlessly integrates with Instagram, further enhancing its appeal to people who are interested in downloading the app.


How Does it Feel?

Upon opening Threads, users are greeted with intuitive buttons allowing them to like, repost, reply to, or quote a "thread," accompanied by visible counters indicating the number of likes and replies to a post has garnered.

Sound familiar?

Notably however, Threads allows users to exceed Twitter's character limit, as posts can contain up to 500 characters. And you don’t have to pay for that!

As well as this, Meta Threads supports the inclusion of links, photos, and videos of up to five minutes in length, further broadening the possibilities for user expression.

As the mass market starts to familiarise themselves with the platform, early posts reflect the usual content one would expect during the initial stages of a new social media platform.

Our Head of Paid Media, Luke Stone had this to say about the app:

“Using Threads has evoked a sense of novelty, as if Twitter and Instagram have birthed a more user-friendly and functional offspring. There’s also an unmistakable energy very similar to a ‘My first tweet’ moment, as people navigate the site and discover what it can do. I’m intrigued.”

Within a short span of time, Meta Threads has seen notable user engagement, with some influential figures quickly amassing large followings.

For instance, Mr Beast, a popular YouTuber, gained over 580k followers overnight, showcasing the potential appeal of the app to established social media players.

It will be fascinating to observe whether other prominent figures and celebrities choose to make Meta Threads their primary platform over Twitter.

Only time will tell.


No More Hashtags

Meta Threads sets itself apart by deviating from the traditional use of hashtags, which have long been a staple of content organisation on social media platforms.

This departure from hashtags introduces a subtle but significant change to the formula, challenging users to explore alternative methods for categorizing and discovering content.

The absence of hashtags within Meta Threads paves the way for a potential reshaping of how conversations unfold, and how trends will emerge within this new digital space.

Without the reliance on hashtags, users will have to adapt and find new ways to navigate and explore content that they may be interested in.

The removal of hashtags may be a strange decision; however, it could foster a more organic and interesting exploration of topics, meaning users will have to rely on other factors such as context, relevance, and engagement to discover posts that they like, instead of just typing a hashtag into a search bar.


Compliance Concerns and Regulatory Landscape

Although this all sounds great, Meta's practices have come under scrutiny for potentially violating EU regulations, as they have been caught tracking and profiling users without obtaining clear consent from them.

This concern has been further highlighted by Meta's recent fine for breaching GDPR requirements, signalling the urgency for the company to address user privacy and data protection properly.

As a result, the launch of Meta Threads in the EU has been postponed, due to legal uncertainties surrounding data use, and the restrictions imposed by the DMA on sharing user data across different platforms.

However, it is important to note that the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) clarified that it has not actively prevented Meta from launching Threads, suggesting that the decision to delay the launch is Meta's own cautious response to potential legal risks.

Interestingly enough, Threads is still set to launch in the UK, which operates under a different regulatory landscape post-Brexit.

Rule Britannia!

While the UK's data protection regime is still based on the GDPR, the country's watchdog, the ICO, has been relatively less active in enforcing breaches compared to their EU counterparts.

As a result of this, the status of Meta's compliance with EU regulations and its approach to user privacy remains uncertain, and considering the forthcoming DMA, the EU could introduce stricter penalties for non-compliance.

Don’t Be a Rule-Breaker

Meta Threads has made a notable entry into the social media arena, attracting users with its innovative features and familiar interface. While the platform continues to evolve and gain traction, ensuring compliance with EU regulations remains a crucial hurdle for Meta.

As users explore the possibilities offered by the social media app, the platform has the potential to redefine social media engagement and provide a fresh landscape for individuals, influencers, and brands alike.

It just needs to follow the rules unfortunately.

6 July 2023
Harry Martin
01392 667766
Optix Solutions
1st Floor, Alphin Brook House,
Alphin Brook Road,
Exeter EX2 8RG


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