Amid all the fuss over Threads, the Instagram-powered Twitter rival that’s making Elon Musk miserable, there’s one itty-bitty teeny-weeny problem: it isn’t available in Europe. That’s because EU privacy laws are pretty tough, and tougher than places such as the US and UK: the EU is particularly unhappy about firms harvesting user data for advertising and related purposes, and it seems that Threads falls foul of that at the moment.
But it raises an interesting question for those of us using Threads outside the EU if we’re travelling into the EU for a holiday or for work. Can you still use Threads if you’re in Europe?
The short answer is: it’s complicated.
How to get Threads and use it in the EU
Threads isn’t available in any of the EU app stores because Meta, its parent company, has decided not to make it available in any of those countries yet. You could get around that by changing your App Store location to a country where Threads is available or by obtaining the Android apk file and side-loading it, but reports suggest that that isn’t working any more: according to 9to5Mac, its readers are reporting that Threads simply stops working if you try to use it in an EU country.
If Threads is indeed cracking down on in-EU use, it appears to be doing it inconsistently: some readers say it’s now blocked, others that it’s working fine. If it’s intentional rather than just a bug – Threads is still far from being a version 1.0 release – then it’s likely using IP lookups and geolocation to work out where people are and to then limit their access to the app.
As ever with geoblocking, the solution is to get one of the best VPNs and use that: it disguises your location so that you can pretend to be somewhere you’re not. Not all VPN services have phone apps but the big ones usually do, and they’re handy for other things too – such as unblocking your favourite streaming shows when you’re travelling abroad.