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Threads finally launches in Europe in December, and it might work without an account

Published Nov 30th, 2023 10:19AM EST
Threads web app
Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Meta enjoyed a massive success a few months ago when it launched its Twitter rival Threads. The app quickly topped 100 million users during one of the lowest points for Twitter. But the success was only possible because Meta made Threads a part of Instagram. Any Instagram user could easily get on Threads without having to create a new account. That’s not exactly organic growth. Still, there’s no question that there’s a need for Threads, considering the state of Twitter/X right now.

Meta will continue to grow the service, and the next big move concerns the European Union. The company is finally ready to make Threads available in Europe beginning in December. When it launches, Threads for Europe might give users a feature other markets won’t get: The ability to browse threads without creating an account.

Threads haphazardly rolled out in July to take advantage of Twitter’s constant embarrassments. But Meta did not bring the app to the EU. The region has stronger privacy features in place than other large markets like the US. Meta would want to tread carefully, pun intended, when launching another social service in the region.

Meta is already at odds with regulators in the region. Most recently, Meta released paid versions of Facebook and Instagram in the EU, which some see as a sneaky way to convince most people to agree to see personalized ads in Meta’s apps.

Fast-forward to late November, and The Wall Street Journal reports that Meta plans to launch Threads in Europe next month.

The Journal says that Threads will give EU users “the choice of using Threads purely for consumption without a profile that allows them to make their own posts.” That’s a big change compared to how Threads works in the rest of the world.

Hands on with Threads on the web
Hands on with Threads on the web. Image source: José Adorno for BGR

As a reminder, you need an Instagram handle to activate a Threads account. Until recently, once you enabled your Threads account, you could not delete it unless you deleted your entire Instagram account. Instagram promised to fix it, however. Adam Moseri confirmed recently that Threads users will be able to delete their accounts without hurting the more important Instagram handle.

I suspect this was another Meta tactic to keep usage numbers up. With Instagram users unwilling to delete their Threads accounts, Meta could continue to report higher numbers of users and ignore actual engagement. I’m not saying Meta did so, but this feature certainly helped.

In October, Mark Zuckerberg said Threads had “just under 100 million monthly active” users. He said he thinks Threads can reach one billion users in a few years. The continued downfall of Twitter can certainly help with that. The expansion to Europe will surely help.

The Journal’s report comes just after Twitter not-CEO Elon Musk told advertisers who withdrew ad spending from Twitter/X to “go f**k yourself.” The remark came after various companies, including Apple and Disney, paused their Twitter/X ad campaigns in response to Musk’s controversial comments on his account, including calling an antisemitic post “the actual truth.”

It seems like every big Threads move follows an equally big Twitter/X blunder. Then again, there is no shortage of blunders at Twitter/X these days.

The arrival of Threads in Europe could be massive for Meta. Some 40 million Europeans might join the service, per tech analyst Debra Aho Williamson. This monthly usage increase estimate takes into account Meta’s reported Instagram users in the EU and the percentage of Instagram users who use Threads actively in other markets.

That would be an impressive figure. The Journal cites data from analytics firm Sensor Tower that says Threads has about 73 million monthly users globally. Twitter sits at 365 million.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.