Meta is considering charging users in Europe for ad-free Instagram and Facebook accounts. What's behind these plans and how much might a subscription cost?
We are all used to the fact that Facebook and Instagram are completely free to use as personal accounts. Users can create profiles, publish posts, communicate with friends and followers, and use other social features completely free of charge. But it's not that simple. Social networks collect our data and preferences to use them for targeted advertising.
Recently, regulators around the world have been paying increasing attention to how Facebook, Instagram and other major Internet platforms collect and use users' personal data to more accurately target advertising posts. EU regulators are challenging Meta over the fact that the use of users activity data for advertising purposes without obtaining their explicit consent does not comply with the General Data Protection Regulation. In Ireland, the Data Protection Authority (DPC) fined the Mark Zuckerberg-led corporation €390 million and banned it from using a so-called "contract" as the legal basis for sending users ads based on their online activity. European regulation of the use of user data clearly runs counter to the advertising policy of Meta social networks, and the corporation headed by Mark Zuckerberg cannot ignore this. What might Meta's response be?
As The Wall Street Journal reported, citing its own sources, Meta is considering introducing paid versions of Facebook and Instagram without advertising in European countries. According to the newspaper, Meta representatives notified regulators in Brussels and Ireland of the existence of such plans in September. Meta could roll out this plan, SNA, which stands for subscription-free ad-free, in the coming months for European users. Users will have the choice of continuing to access Instagram and Facebook for free with personalized ads, or paying for ad-free versions of the services.
How much will a paid subscription to Facebook and Instagram cost?
According to sources, Meta has discussed various options for subscription costs, but the most likely is a monthly fee of approximately 10 euros for using a Facebook or Instagram account on a computer and approximately 6 euros for each additional linked account. For mobile devices, the price will rise to 13 euros per month, since Meta will have to include in this price the commissions charged by the App Store and Google Play.
What does Meta want to achieve by introducing paid subscriptions?
Meta's main source of income is advertising on its social networks, and if Europe prohibits showing personalized ads to users without their prior consent, the corporation will lose a huge share of its income. Therefore, the possible introduction of a paid subscription without advertising aims not so much at additional income from such a subscription, but rather at the consent of users to personalized advertising. Meta apparently hopes that offering users a choice between a free plan with ads and a paid subscription without ads may encourage users to choose to continue using the free service. IThus, Meta could formally comply with European rules and at the same time not lose income from the advertising business. If these plans become reality, the question remains how European users will react to this proposal.