Meta blocks EU users from accessing Threads via a VPN

in General Discussion

Meta is going to extensive lengths to prevent users in Europe from accessing Threads, including attempts to use the service while using a VPN.

Meta has seen massive success for Threads, its Instagram-connected take on Twitter, with over 100 million accounts now set up on the social platform. While Meta may yearn for even more users, it's working to make sure that they don't come from the European Union.

While Meta hasn't officially launched in the EU, users within the bloc are discovering that they are being prevented from being able to use it. This includes attempts by users to circumvent geolocation blocks by using VPNs.

Users have, ironically, taken to other platforms like Twitter to raise the issues, reports TechCrunch. This includes being unable to access existing posts or to publish new content to the platform, even if they previously logged in successfully.

Meta has since confirmed that it is actively blocking alternative methods used by EU citizens to use Threads. In a statement to Matt Navarra on Twitter, Meta states "Threads is currently unavailable in most European countries and we have taken further measures to prevent people from those countries accessing threads."

The company insists "Europe continues to be a very important market for Meta and we hope to be able to bring Threads to more countries in the future."

Meta's decision to leave EU users out in the cold is almost certainly due to privacy rules affecting companies working in affected countries. The Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act can have a considerable impact to how Meta moderates content, operates algorithms, and its collection of user data for advertising purposes.

There's also the matter of the EU agreeing to a proposal allowing transatlantic data transfers of EU user data to U.S. servers to happen once more, a legal issue that Meta was fined $1.3 billion over in May. However, while it has been agreed to, the proposal may still face legal pressure from privacy advocates.

Given all of the legal headaches associated with EU privacy rules, Meta and Instagram probably want to avoid as much trouble as possible for its new service.

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  • Reply 1 of 2
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,677member
    What good is a VPN if they can detect it and block it?
  • Reply 2 of 2
    davidwdavidw Posts: 2,074member
    eriamjh said:
    What good is a VPN if they can detect it and block it?
    You can still use one to prevent your own ISP from knowing what websites you visit. When you log into your VPN, your ISP only sees the IP address of your VPN, not what IP address your VPN assigned to you. If some law enforcement agency get a search warrant for your ISP to reveal their record of all the websites you have visited, all they will see is the IP address of your VPN. Only your VPN knows what websites you had visited with the IP addresses they assigned to you. But most of the good VPN do not keep a record of that for any great length of time. Maybe a few weeks or a month only. There are no laws in the US that requires VPN's to keep a record of the sites their customers visited, while using the IP addresses assigned to them. Some countries requires VPN's to keep a record for a year or two.

    Using a VPN to bypass geo-blocking is not illegal and is up to the websites to enforce, if it's against their policy. The website do not detect you are using a VPN. What the website have is a list of IP addresses that they have accumulated over time, that they know belongs to a VPN. These IP addresses get blacklisted. So if your VPN assigned you an IP address that is on a website blacklist, the website won't let you log on. But you might be able to try again using another location provided by your VPN and get lucky with getting assigned an IP address that is not on the website blacklist. Thus being able to log on with that IP address, even though you're still using a VPN. 

    I imagine with a website like Facebook, with the vast amount of users they have, they have managed to accumulate a vast number of IP addresses that they know are owned by a VPN. That they can use to blacklist, if it's against their policy to use a VPN to access certain features. Unlike a website like NBA Pass, where it seems very simple to bypass their geo-blocked home team games by using a good VPN. 
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