Meta said Monday it will offer an ad-free subscription option to Facebook and Instagram for the first time starting next month for users in Europe, a sign of how government pressure is forcing big tech companies to change their core products. Is motivating for.
The social networking company said It was complying with “evolving European regulations” by launching membership options in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Starting in November, users will be able to choose to continue using Facebook or Instagram for free with ads or subscribe to stop seeing ads, Meta said.
The cost will range from 9.99 euros per month ($10.58) on the web to 12.99 euros per month ($13.75) on iOS and Android devices, and will apply to users’ linked Facebook and Instagram accounts. From March 1, 2024, an additional fee of 6 euros per month for the web version and 8 euros per month for mobile access will apply for additional accounts.
Meta’s core business has long been focused on providing free social networking services to users and selling advertising to companies that want to reach that audience. Offering a paid tier reflects how tech companies are having to redesign products to comply with data privacy rules and other government policies, especially in Europe. Amazon, Apple, Google, TikTok and others are also making changes to comply with new rules in the European Union, which is home to about 450 million people in 27 countries.
To protect people’s privacy, the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, effective in July barred Meta from combining data collected from users on its platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as from external websites and apps. manner, as long as it received explicit consent from users. This came after a January decision by EU regulators to fine Meta 390 million euros for forcing users to accept personalized ads as a condition of using Facebook.
In its July ruling, the European Court of Justice indicated that offering a subscription service in Europe could be a way to comply with the ruling, Meta said. A subscription may allow users to access the platform without using their personal data to sell advertising.
“We respect the spirit and intent of these evolving European regulations and are committed to complying with them,” the company said in a statement. statement announced the new payment tiers on its website.
Meta said that while it is committed to keeping people’s information private and secure, it also believes in an “advertising-supported Internet” that provides personalized products and services to individuals, as well as small businesses to reach potential customers. Allows access.
Max Schrems, a privacy activist in Austria whose legal challenges targeting Meta helped bring about changes to the product, said the subscription offering does not comply with EU data privacy law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation. goes. He vowed to challenge it in court.
“If we move to a system of paying for your rights, it will depend on how deep your pockets are if you have a right to privacy,” Mr Schrems said. “We have great doubts if this is in accordance with the law.”
In addition to Meta, Apple is expected to be required to allow customers to download the alternative from its App Store for the first time by March due to another EU law, called the Digital Markets Act. The Digital Markets Act was passed last year to promote competition in the tech industry. Google is also making changes to comply with the new law.
Last December, Amazon made changes to its Shopping service to give third-party merchants access to more valuable real estate on the company’s website, under the terms of a settlement with EU antitrust regulators.