Less than 24 hours after launching, Meta’s newly released alternative to Twitter is already sparking controversy over its policy that prohibits users from deleting their Threads profiles without also deleting their corresponding Instagram accounts.
Branded as Instagram’s “text-based conversation app,” Threads allows users to post short messages that others can like, share and comment on. Instagram users will be able to keep their usernames and follow the same accounts on the new app.
However, users can delete individual posts and “deactivate” their accounts at any time, meaning they can just stop engaging with the app.
The policy has taken many by surprise, with new subscribers venting their frustrations on Threads’ competitor platform, Twitter.
One user wrote “The fact that you have to delete your Instagram account to delete your threads profile and data is enough to make me not download it lol”
Others mirrored that sentiment. One user said the platform seems to be “holding [them] hostage” while another advises against signing up for the app at all.
Threads launched in more than 100 countries — including the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — and has already drawn celebrity users like chef Gordon Ramsay, pop star Shakira and actor Jack Black as well as accounts from Airbnb, Guinness World Records, Netflix, Vogue magazine and other media outlets, The Associated Press reports.
However, the launch did not include any European Union countries, where data privacy concerns have the release on pause, CNBC reports. The 27-nation bloc has strict laws on data privacy and Meta recently lost a legal challenge over the way it collects user data for targeted advertising. At issue is the way Facebook gains consent from users to process their data.
Threads could collect a wide range of personal information, including health, financial, contacts, browsing and search history, location data, purchases and “sensitive info,” according to its data privacy disclosure on the App Store. The EU’s high court found that the company “cannot justify” claiming “legitimate interest” as a reason for using personal data to serve ads to users. Under European Union privacy rules, users need to freely give consent for their data to be used.