The Twitter logo displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE
Threads has been dubbed as the 'Twitter killer' but before it kills the Elon Musk-owned platform, it seems it has to pass through EU regulatory concerns and questions about its data collection. Reuters


  • Threads may collect sensitive info such as financial data and precise location
  • Experts say Threads is 'harvesting pretty much everything'
  • The app's EU launch was delayed due to regulatory concerns

Meta's Threads, an app that's being touted as a Twitter rival, has been rolled out in more than 100 countries and is gaining much attention among users. However, the app's data collection policies are raising questions about user privacy.

Aside from the basic personal information that most apps collect while downloading, Threads may gather sensitive information such as one's financial data and purchase history, credit score and even one's precise location, according to disclosures on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

The app, which was launched Thursday, may also collect other highly sensitive data such as user search and browsing history, physical address and unspecified contact data only tagged as "other user contact info."

The Threads app's collection of data appears to mirror that of TikTok, the Chinese app that many U.S. lawmakers see as national security threat. The two apps share very similar data collection measures, at least based on TikTok's App Store and Play Store disclosures.

Meta-owned Instagram, which developed Threads, admitted that the new app may collect "sensitive info." However, TechCrunch's Natasha Loma wrote that the app "looks like a privacy nightmare."

"Not only do they know more about you than arguably you do yourself from your posts on Facebook they are harvesting pretty much everything they can and tying it back to your identity for even more granular profiling," futurist and tech international speaker Theo Priestley tweeted.

Mario Nawfal, CEO of NFT Technologies, noted that Meta may collect all users' data as the Facebook parent "typically has a penchant" for information mining.

Many other Twitter users also shared concerns about Threads' potential privacy and security risks.

Users and tech observers aren't the only ones concerned about Threads' potential privacy risks as the European Union has postponed the app's launch in the bloc over regulatory concerns.

Meta will be subject to the bloc's new law, the Digital Markets Act, which prohibits digital platforms from transferring users' personal information across products, a scenario which could occur between Instagram and its new Threads app. Violators may be fined up to 10% of the company's total global annual turnover or up to 20% "in the event of repeated infringements."

Meta did not immediately respond to International Business Times' request for a comment.

In January, Ireland's data regulator, the Data Protection Commission (DPC), slapped the social media giant with fines totaling 390 million euros (approximately $422 million) for allegedly violating EU personal data laws on both Facebook and Instagram, specifically "for its processing of personal data for the purpose of behavioral advertising."

A Meta spokesperson told CNBC that the company "strongly" disagrees with the DPC's decision and will lodge an appeal.

"There has been a lack of regulatory clarity on this issue, and the debate among regulators and policymakers around which legal basis is most appropriate in a given situation has been ongoing for some time," the spokesperson said.

Late last year, Meta also agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in connection with the Cambridge Analytica personal data access scandal. The case stems from revelations that Facebook allowed political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to access the data of around 87 million users.

Meanwhile, Threads is being touted a "Twitter killer" due to the expectation that many social media users will migrate to the Meta app. Threads' launch comes after Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter owner Elon Musk's bitter rivalry reached a point where they threatened to fight each other in a real-life mixed martial arts cage match.

Meta has since confirmed that Zuckerberg's answer to Musk's challenge was genuine. UFC president Dana White also said the two were "absolutely dead serious" about the match.