Meta Offering EU Ad-Free Subscription Plans For Facebook, Instagram To Comply With European Digital Privacy Regs

To comply with European regulators after getting on the wrong side of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Meta said today it will be offering users in the EU, EEA and Switzerland the option of paying a monthly subscription fee to use Facebook and Instagram without any ads.

The key is that, while people are subscribed, their information will not be used for ads. If they continue to use the services for free, they will still get targeted advertising.

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“Whether people choose to use our products for free with ads or subscribe to stop seeing ads, we are committed to keeping people’s information private and secure, under our own policies as well as the” GDPR’s.

The subscription will cost €9.99 a month on the web or €12.99 a month on iOS and Android and apply to all linked Facebook and Instagram accounts. The iOS and Android pricing takes into account fees charged by Apple and Google.

The initial subscription will cover all of a user’s linked accounts through March 1 of 2024. After that, an additional fee of €6 a month on the web and €8 a month on iOS and Android will apply for each additional account. The subscription for no ads will be available for people aged 18 and up. “We’re continuing to explore how to provide teens with a useful and responsible ad experience given this evolving regulatory landscape.”

Meta said it firmly believes in an ad-supported internet, “But we respect the spirit and purpose of these evolving European regulations, and are committed to complying with them.”

The EU fined Meta $1.3 billion in May for violating its data privacy rules by transferring user data in Europe to servers in the U.S. After a legal tussle, the EU basically barred the platform from harvesting user data from its platforms for targeted ads without user consent.

“The option for people to purchase a subscription for no ads balances the requirements of European regulators while giving users choice and allowing Meta to continue serving all people in the EU, EEA and Switzerland. In its ruling, the CJEU expressly recognised that a subscription model, like the one we are announcing, is a valid form of consent for an ads funded service,” Meta said.

“We announced in August our intention to move people in the EU, EEA and Switzerland to the GDPR legal basis of “consent” for the purpose of processing data collected on our own platforms for advertising purposes.”

“We made that change to address a number of evolving and emerging regulatory requirements in the region. This includes how our lead data protection regulator in the EU, the Irish Data Protection Commission, is interpreting GDPR following a recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and anticipating the entry into force of the Digital Markets Act (DMA).”

The DMA, one of the centerpieces of European digital strategy, address the issues of some large online platforms operating as “gatekeepers” in digital markets. It aims to identify gatekeepers and “ensure that these platforms behave in a fair way online,” according to the European Commission website.

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