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Meta Launches Paid Ad-Free Subscription in Europe to Satisfy Privacy Laws

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Oct 31, 2023NewsroomPrivacy / Online Security

Facebook Ad-Free Subscription

Meta on Monday announced plans to offer an ad-free option to access Facebook and Instagram for users in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland to comply with “evolving” data protection regulations in the region.

The ad-free subscription, which costs €9.99/month on the web or €12.99/month on iOS and Android, is expected to be officially available starting next month. The company’s proposal for a subscription version of its service was first reported by The Wall Street Journal earlier this 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 said.

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“While people are subscribed, their information will not be used for ads.”

While the fee covers all linked accounts for a user, beginning March 1, 2024, the company plans to levy an additional fee — of €6/month on web and €8/month on iOS or Android — for each additional account listed in a user’s Account Center.

The concession comes after the tech giant was slapped with a €390 million fine in January, related to breaches of Europe’s flagship privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation.

Specifically, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) found that in order for users to access Meta’s digital real estate, they had no choice but to accept the terms of service and therefore consent to allow targeted advertising based on their online activity.

In August 2023, Meta said it intends to switch to a consent-based approach, giving users a choice to deny its behavioral advertising practices.

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Meta also pointed out that its subscription model is a “valid form of consent for an ads funded service,” citing a July ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which stated that online platforms can offer an equivalent alternative “for an appropriate fee” that’s “not accompanied by such data processing operations.”

Coinciding with the development, Meta said it will also temporarily pause showing any ads to users aged under 18 in areas where the ad-free subscription is available, starting November 6, 2023.

“The option for people to purchase a subscription for no ads balances the requirements of European regulators while giving users choice and allowing Meta to continue serving all people in the EU, EEA and Switzerland,” the company added.

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