Meta has unveiled its plans to introduce a paid subscription offering access without ads to Facebook and Instagram for users in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland. This move is in response to the evolving data protection regulations in the region.
The ad-free subscription, priced at €9.99/month for web users and €12.99/month for iOS and Android users, is set to be officially launched next month. Meta’s proposal for a subscription-based version of its services was initially reported by The Wall Street Journal earlier in the month.
“In November, we will be offering people who use Facebook or Instagram and reside in these regions the choice to continue using these personalized services for free with ads, or subscribe to stop seeing ads,” the company stated. “While people are subscribed, their information will not be used for ads.”
The subscription fee covers all associated accounts for a user. However, starting March 1, 2024, Meta intends to introduce an additional fee of €6/month for web users and €8/month for iOS or Android users for each extra account listed in a user’s Account Center.
This decision follows a €390 million fine imposed on the tech giant in January, related to violations of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Namely, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) discovered that users had no option but to accept the terms of service to access Meta’s digital platforms, effectively granting consent for targeted advertising based on their online activity.
In August 2023, Meta expressed its intention to adopt a consent-based approach, giving users the choice to reject its behavioral advertising practices.
Meta also highlighted that its subscription model aligns with the requirements of European regulators and cited a July ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU ruling acknowledged that online platforms could present an equivalent option “for an appropriate fee” that does not involve extensive data processing operations.
Simultaneously, Meta will temporarily cease displaying ads to users under the age of 18 in regions where the ad-free subscription option is accessible, starting from November 6, 2023.
“The option for people to purchase a subscription for an ad-free experience addresses the demands of European regulators, offering users a choice while allowing Meta to continue serving all users in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland,” the company added.