Meta's data-hungry Threads skips over EU but lands in Britain

Plus: Facebook corp loses appeal on crossing data streams in Germany

Elon Musk's Twitter can breathe easy when it comes to the European Union – Meta's "Threads" will be steering clear.

This is because Mark Zuckerberg's company – which owns Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, and more – will not launch its new Twitter-like service anywhere in the EU for the foreseeable future. But yes, it has arrived in Britain, London vultures have informed us.


Brexit dividend? 'Newly independent' UK will be world's 'data hub', claims digital minister


Ireland's data protection watchdog, which oversees all the tech giants headquartered in the corporate tax-light country, told The Register that Meta had "confirmed to the DPC that they have no plans to roll out the service in the EU at present."

While it's hitting the US and the UK tomorrow – British and American influencers have reportedly already been offered early access – this Berlin-based vulture can confirm there's none of that here, not unless you wish to pipe your data across via VPN.

As we mentioned earlier today, the app asks users for quite a serious amount of data. (You have to click through to App Privacy > Details to see the full extent of it, which is presented in a scrollbox. The Reg has screenshotted the whole thing and pasted it together at the very end of this article so you can get a fuller picture.) In return for the data, Threadsters (Threaders?) get to use the app for free. We've asked Meta for comment.

The Facebook parent made 97.45 percent of its revenues – $113.642 billion of a total of $116.609 billion – in advertising in fiscal 2022 [PDF], according to its reported numbers. Net income, however, stood at $23.2 billion, down 41 percent from 2021's $39.37 billion. Under operations risk factors, it lists those "associated with government actions that could restrict access to our products or impair our ability to sell advertising in certain countries; litigation and government inquiries; privacy, legislative, and regulatory concerns or developments."

The only way is Brexit

Data privacy laws in the US are very loose, especially on a federal level, which is part of the reason why the various frameworks for data exchange between the European Union's member states and the United States keep failing when challenged in court.

However, it might come as a surprise to some that Meta doesn't appear to anticipate any regulatory trouble in the UK.

facial recog cameras

UK's GDPR replacement could wipe out oversight of live facial recognition


It's a signal that at least one tech giant expects the UK's "replacement for GDPR" – the second take on the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDIB II) – to be more sympathetic than current British privacy legislation. Brexit dividend, anyone?

Meanwhile, over in Germany, Meta can't combine the data it collects about you on Facebook with the stuff you spill on Instagram and WhatsApp, or with other websites and apps you use, without getting your explicit permission.

That was the ruling [PDF] from the European Union's highest court, the Court of Justice, when it upheld a decision by German antitrust regulators that Meta had abused its dominance in social media by milking users for information and swirling it together to serve up ads to users.

A Meta company spokesperson told us: "We are evaluating the Court's decision and will have more to say in due course."

Back in January, Ireland's regulator stopped Meta from launching advertising services on WhatsApp that uses data from Facebook or Instagram.

The crossing of the data streams is not a problem for the Facebook giant in the US and UK, it seems. ®

threads screenshot - data policy

The full data policy for the new Threads app, as listed by its developer, Meta's Instagram, here – click to enlarge

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like