Why isn’t Threads in the EU? The app tests the bloc’s new privacy law

Matthew G. Yuching

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Why isn’t Threads in the EU? The app tests the bloc’s new privacy law
Threads’ no-go in the EU shows the need for increased regulation, transparency, and protection of user data

Threads, Meta Platforms’ answer to Elon Musk-owned Twitter, registered 100 million users in 5 days, breaking online registration records.

Now a little over three weeks since its launch last July 5, the social media platform has yet to launch in a key market with over 400 million potential users: the European Union (EU).

The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a 2022 legislation that regulates the digital market competition in the region. It prevents tech giants from cornering the market of a specific product or service, and allows smaller companies to compete against them.

These tech giants, identified as “gatekeepers” in the legislation, are companies in which the EU has identified as needing tighter regulations. These companies include Meta, Amazon, Apple, and Google.

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Anti-ecosystem policy

Many suspect DMA’s Article 5.2 to be Meta’s roadblock to an EU rollout. The section prevents gatekeeper companies from the “cross-use” of data between platforms without user consent.

An example of this would be creating a Threads account. If EU regulations applied, Meta will be required to allow a Threads account to be made without having a prior Instagram account.

This poses a dilemma for Meta, as an Instagram account is currently required to create a Threads account, meaning Threads makes use of already-existing user data (from Instagram) to set up an account.

Gatekeeper companies are also required to get explicit consent to import user data, and allow its users to revoke it at any time. As of writing, the only way to delete your Threads account is to also delete the linked Instagram account.

The DMA also assures the ability of smaller companies to advertise and promote their products on gatekeepers’ platforms. This is good news for healthy competition in the EU, as smaller companies like Mastodon and Bluesky are able to enter the market without worrying about an already-cornered market.

Gaps in Philippine legislation

The Philippines’ regulation of online platforms pale in comparison to the strict rules set in the EU.

The Data Privacy Act of 2012 sets guidelines and limitations to how a Filipino’s personal and sensitive information can be handled, with the National Privacy Commission to implement the Act.

Besides the need for the user’s explicit consent to share information (locally or abroad), the Act lacks the thoroughness the EU’s laws have in how that information is used after. 

A user may only revoke their consent only if the information is no longer accurate, no longer used for its intended purpose, or was collected without consent.

So far, House Bills 892 and 898, are efforts to strengthen the Act, but are more focused on its scope and penalties. Senate Bill 1367 meanwhile aims to amend the Act to allow the access of a user’s private information during a national emergency or health crisis. –

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