Meta considers ad-free paid versions of Facebook and Instagram for EU users

This strategic move is in response to increasing regulatory scrutiny and privacy concerns from EU authorities.

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Meta Platforms is considering introducing paid versions of Facebook and Instagram for European Union (EU) users to address regulatory scrutiny, the New York Times reported. Subscribers to these paid versions would not be shown ads, while free versions with ads would still be available.

This move aims to provide users with an ad-free alternative to Meta’s data-driven ad services, potentially addressing privacy concerns and regulatory issues. Meta has faced challenges from EU antitrust regulators and lost a legal battle related to data collection in July. The cost of the paid versions is yet to be determined. Meta has not commented on this development.

Why does it matter?

Since implementing the GDPR in 2016, the European Union has significantly bolstered online privacy and data protection measures. In May, Meta faced a 1.2 billion euro ($1.3 billion) fine for breaching GDPR through the mishandling and unauthorized transfer of European user data to the United States. If implemented, this ad-free policy could help address privacy concerns since ad-supported platforms often rely on data collection and tracking user behaviour for targeted advertising. While the need for users to pay for enhanced privacy, a fundamental right in the EU, can be a subject of debate, the prevailing trend suggests that data-driven platforms will increasingly investigate sustainable alternative monetization strategies, such as subscription models, to reduce their reliance on the core driver of their business models, which is data collection.