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Meta to shut down Threads in Türkiye to comply with ban on sharing data with Instagram

Meta said it plans to “temporarily” shut down Threads in Turkey starting April 29, in response to a temporary ban issued last month by Turkey’s competition authority over the way Meta shares data between Threads and Instagram.

The Turkish Competition Authority (TCA), also known as Rekabet Kurumu, released its findings on March 18, stating that its investigation found that Meta abused its market dominance by combining data from users who created Threads profiles with data from their Instagram accounts. Not giving users the option to opt in.

It’s the latest in a series of regulatory battles Meta has faced in Europe, after it was fined $267 million for WhatsApp’s GDPR violations in the European Union (EU) and was forced to sell Giphy, worth $400 million, for $53 million. US dollars to acquire Shutterstock on the grounds that the deal reduces competition.

Meshing data

More relevant to today’s news, however, is the fact that Turkey fined Meta $18.6 million in 2022 for merging user data on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. In January this year, Turkey’s TCA said it would impose an additional fine of $160,000 per day for Meta’s failure to comply with previous orders. The TCA argued that Meta’s notification messages to users about its data sharing practices were insufficient and lacked transparency.

So this latest skirmish is not without precedent.

For context, Facebook’s sister company Instagram launched Threads last summer, in large part to capitalize on the loss of Twitter users following Elon Musk’s controversial acquisition. Although Threads has reportedly amassed 130 million users to date, longstanding criticism has focused on the way it forces users to create Instagram accounts in order to obtain a Threads profile.

Initially, the only way Meta allowed users to delete a Threads profile was to delete their entire Instagram account, although it later introduced a separate deletion mechanism for users who just wanted to give up their Threads profile. As part of Threads’ regulatory compliance measures, Meta launched a “view without profile” feature in the EU market last year, allowing users limited access to the social network without creating an account.

Meanwhile, Turkish regulators in December announced a new investigation into the way Meta connected Threads to Instagram, concluding last month that there was good reason to be responsible. In its interim report, the TCA wrote:

  • Since META has been operating in the market for many years, it has comprehensive and detailed data accumulation.

  • The size and diversity of META’s user base make META’s services attractive to advertisers.

  • This situation allows META to allocate more resources to service development and makes it difficult for competitors to obtain advertisers and financial resources. In this case, META’s activities create barriers to market entry.

  • In addition, META operates as an ecosystem, providing basic and related services, which allows META to transfer the power and knowledge gained from each service to another service and increase its market power.

This leads us to announce today that Meta will be canceling Threads, at least temporarily, pending further discussions and legal resolution between the parties.

“We disagree with the interim order, we believe we complied with all of Turkey’s legal requirements and we will appeal,” Mehta wrote in a blog post today. “The TCA’s interim order leaves us with no choice but to temporarily shut down Threads in Turkey. We will continue to engage constructively with the TCA and hope to get Threads back into the hands of the Turkish people as soon as possible.”

Everyone using Threads in Turkey will be notified of the impending closure until April 29, and they will have the option to delete or deactivate their profile. The latter means that if Threads is restored in Türkiye, users’ profiles can be restored.

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