A spokesperson for Meta said the company will ‘continue to explore options to ensure we comply with evolving regulatory requirements’.
Meta is reportedly planning to introduce an ad-free paid tier for Instagram and Facebook in the EU and privacy rights activists aren’t happy about the move.
First reported on by the Wall Street Journal, Meta’s plans reportedly involve charging users €10 for web access or about €13 for mobile apps as a monthly subscription fee to avail of an ad-free experience on the popular social media platforms.
The outlet reports that Meta informed the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) and regulators in Brussels about the subscription plan last month.
This means that EU users of Meta apps Instagram and Facebook would have a choice between using the apps for free with personalised ads enabled or signing up to a monthly subscription for an uninterrupted and privacy-friendly experience.
While Meta has not publicly confirmed the move, a spokesperson for the company told SiliconRepublic.com that it believes in the “value of free services which are supported by personalised ads”.
“However, we continue to explore options to ensure we comply with evolving regulatory requirements. We have nothing further to share at this time,” the spokesperson said.
Privacy rights group NOYB (None of Your Business) is calling this move a ‘pay for your rights’ approach to monetising social media. Max Schrems, the privacy rights advocate who set up the non-profit, said in a statement that fundamental rights “cannot be for sale”.
“Are we going to pay for the right to vote or the right to free speech next? This would mean that only the rich can enjoy these rights, at a time when many people are struggling to make ends meet,” Schrems said.
“Introducing this idea in the area of your right to data protection is a major shift. We would fight this up and down the courts.”
NOYB said that the latest move by Meta follows successful litigation by the non-profit in which the European Data Protection Board and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) declared the tech giant’s so-called “consent bypass” practices illegal.
“The CJEU said that the alternative to ads must be ‘necessary’, and the fee must be ‘appropriate’. I don’t think €160 a year is what they had in mind,” Schrems went on. “For Meta, this is not the most stable case law, and we will clearly fight against such an approach.”
Meta is not the only social media giant looking to introduce a paid ad-free tier. TikTok is also testing an ad-free subscription tier for its app at a cost of $4.99 a month.
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