Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is set to introduce a monthly subscription option for users in Europe, giving them the ability to opt out of ads and protect their privacy. This decision symbolizes a significant shift for the social media giant, which has traditionally relied on an ad-supported model and defended it as a means of ensuring fair access for all users, regardless of their financial status.
The move comes amidst mounting pressure from privacy regulators and legal actions in Europe that have compelled Meta to reconsider its approach to obtaining user consent for behavioral advertising. This move is seen as an attempt to address these concerns.
The ad-free subscription option will be priced at €9.99 ($10.50) per month, with a slight increase to €12.99 for users signing up via their mobile phones. Beginning in November, Meta plans to launch this subscription service in the European Union, as well as in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.
A spokesperson for the company has stated that they believe their product solution is compliant with the evolving legal requirements within the EU. However, this announcement has not been met without criticism. Privacy activists and regulators have voiced their disapproval, arguing that Meta’s offering is an attempt to evade necessary changes required to conform to European privacy laws.
Previously, European courts have ruled that Meta cannot utilize personal data for advertising purposes without explicit consent from its users. Norway, a member of the European Economic Area, has already deemed Meta’s behavioral advertising practices as illegal. As a result, the country has imposed daily fines of $100,000 for non-compliance, with the total amounting to over $7 million.
The introduction of a subscription option for users in Europe is undoubtedly a significant development in Meta’s attempt to address privacy concerns and comply with European laws. However, it remains to be seen whether this move will be sufficient to appease privacy activists and regulators who seek more comprehensive changes from the company. As the launch date approaches, the controversy surrounding Meta’s actions is unlikely to dissipate any time soon.