Meta May Allow Ad-Free Versions Of Facebook, Instagram In Europe

To help relieve regulatory scrutiny over ad-tracking data-privacy concerns, Meta may be planning to allow users living in the European Union to pay to avoid seeing advertisements on both Facebook and Instagram, reports The New York Times.

By way of a paid subscription model, users would avoid seeing ads in either app, marking a major shift in Meta's long-standing core business model, which, for twenty years, has been rooted in offering the public free social networking services while selling advertising to companies interested in reaching a specific audience.

For a while, the California-based tech giant has been battling with the European regulators around its ad-tracking services and data transfers.

In January, Ireland's Data Protection Commission fined Meta more than $400 million for its use of user data on Facebook and Instagram.

Then, in May, the company was ordered to stop transferring the Facebook data of EU citizens to the U.S. after being hit with a record-breaking fine of $1.3 billion by the DPC for violating the GDPR –– a landmark legislation to protect people's online data.



In July, the EU's highest court barred Meta from combining data collected about users across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in addition to outside websites and apps without consent from users.

A week ago, the Digital Services Act took effect. Now, online platforms must adhere to the groundbreaking EU law, which bans discriminatory targeted advertising, gives users a chance to opt out of data collection, demands more transparency of how platforms’ algorithms work, requires the removal of illicit posts and goods from their apps, and more.

Thus, social media users in the EU now have more control over personal data being collected on their feeds across social-media platforms than they have ever had before.

The Meta insiders who spoke to The Times believe that providing users with the choice to opt out of ads on Facebook and Instagram could alleviate European regulators’ ongoing concerns. “Even if few people choose the paid version, making such an option available could serve Meta's interests in the region,” The Times wrote, summarizing the insiders' words.

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