Meta will charge up to €12.99 for ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram in Europe | ET REALITY

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Meta said on Monday it will introduce an ad-free subscription option for Facebook and Instagram for the first time starting next month for users in Europe, a sign of how government pressure is leading big tech companies to change their core products.

The social media company said was complying with “evolving European regulations” by introducing opt-in in the European Union, 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 between 9.99 euros per month ($10.58) on the web and 12.99 euros per month ($13.75) on iOS and Android devices, and will apply to the linked Facebook and Instagram accounts of the user. Starting March 1, 2024, an additional fee of €6 per month for the web version and €8 per month for mobile access will apply for additional accounts.

Meta’s core business has long focused on offering free social media services to users and selling ads to companies that want to reach that audience. Providing a paid tier illustrates how tech companies are having to redesign their products to comply with data privacy rules and other government policies, particularly in Europe. Amazon, Apple, Google, TikTok and others are also making changes to comply with the 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, effectively banned Meta in July from combining data collected about users across its platforms (including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp), as well as from external websites and applications, unless you received explicit consent from users. This came after EU regulators decided in January to fine Meta €390 million for forcing users to accept personalized ads as a condition of using Facebook.

In its July decision, the European Court of Justice indicated that offering a subscription service in Europe may be a way to comply with the ruling, Meta said. A subscription can allow users to access platforms without their personal data being used to sell ads.

“We respect the spirit and purpose of these evolving European regulations and are committed to complying with them,” the company said in a statement announcing the new paid level on their website.

Meta added that while it was committed to keeping people’s information private and secure, it believed in an “ad-based Internet” that provides people with personalized products and services, while allowing small businesses to reach potential customers. .

Max Schrems, a privacy activist in Austria whose legal challenges targeting Meta helped spur changes to the product, said the subscription offerings do not comply with the EU’s data privacy law, known as the General Protection Regulation. of data. He promised to challenge it in court.

“If we move to a pay-for-your-entitlements system, it will depend on how deep your pockets are if you have a right to privacy,” Schrems said. “We are very skeptical about whether this complies with the law.”

Aside from Meta, Apple is expected to be required in March to allow customers to download alternatives to its App Store for the first time due to another EU law, called the Digital Markets Act. The Digital Markets Act was passed last year to boost competition in the technology industry. Google is also making changes to comply with the new law.

Last December, Amazon also 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 deal with EU antitrust regulators.

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