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Meta's X rival Threads launches in the EU as the bloc's Big Tech rules come into play

This photo, taken in New York, Thursday, July 6, 2023, shows Meta's new app Threads.
This photo, taken in New York, Thursday, July 6, 2023, shows Meta's new app Threads. Copyright Richard Drew/Copyright 2023 The AP.
Copyright Richard Drew/Copyright 2023 The AP.
By Pascale Davies
Published on Updated
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The EU's Digital Markets Act is reportedly the reason why it took five months longer for the platform to launch in Europe.

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Meta’s Threads, a rival to X (formerly known as Twitter), is now available in the European Union following a delay, reportedly due to the bloc's rules against Big Tech. 

"Today, we’re opening Threads to more countries in Europe," the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday on the platform.

Threads is a new app built by the Instagram team. Like X, it allows you to share text updates and join public conversations but gives you 500 characters, almost double the amount of characters that Twitter allows.

Threads was first launched in the United States, the United Kingdom, and 100 other countries in July 2023.

The reason why it took five months longer to launch in Europe is reportedly blamed on the bloc’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) legislation that is designed to rein in the abuses from Big Tech companies and level the playing field with Europe’s own businesses.

Contrary to DMA rules

Big Tech companies will have until March 2024 to comply with the DMA requirements.

When Threads first launched, users had to have an Instagram account to use the app. However, this falls afoul of the EU's DMA rule against self-preferencing.

However, Meta said in a blog post on Thursday that it had updated its service so that you do not need to have an Instagram account to access Threads.

Another update is that in 2024, Threads will introduce its own third-party fact-checking service that will "review and rate false comments on Threads," Meta said.

Currently, Facebook and Instagram’s fact-checkers rate near-identical content on Threads but they cannot rate Threads content on its own.

Fact-checking comes at an important time ahead of the US elections but also sets Threads apart from Twitter, which has been criticised for increasing disinformation and hate speech since Elon Musk took over Twitter and renamed it X.

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