In response to evolving data protection regulations in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland, Meta made a significant announcement on Monday. The tech giant unveiled plans to roll out an ad-free subscription option for Facebook and Instagram users in these regions, starting next month. Priced at €9.99/month on the web and €12.99/month on iOS and Android, this subscription offering is designed to align with the changing legal landscape concerning user privacy.
“In November, users in these regions will have the choice to continue using our personalized services with ads for free, or opt for an ad-free experience through a subscription,” Meta stated.
Crucially, during their subscription period, user data will not be utilized for advertising purposes. Meta’s subscription fee covers all linked accounts for a user. However, from March 1, 2024, an additional charge will be applied—€6/month on the web and €8/month on iOS or Android—for each extra account registered in a user’s Account Center.
This move follows Meta’s earlier setback when it faced a €390 million fine in January due to violations of Europe’s prominent privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation. The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) ruled that users had no choice but to consent to targeted advertising based on their online activity to access Meta’s platforms.
To address this, Meta has decided to adopt a consent-based approach, allowing users the option to reject behavioral advertising practices starting August 2023. The company cited a July ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which affirmed that online platforms could provide an equivalent ad-free alternative “for an appropriate fee” without involving extensive data processing operations.
Simultaneously, Meta announced a temporary halt on showing ads to users under 18 in regions where the ad-free subscription option is available, effective November 6, 2023.
Meta emphasized that their subscription model serves as a valid form of consent for an ad-funded service, striking a balance between compliance with European regulators and user choice. This strategic decision enables Meta to continue serving all users in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland while respecting their privacy preferences.