Meta is set to introduce an ad-free subscription option for Facebook and Instagram within the European Union, the EEA (European Economic Area), and Switzerland.
This move confirms a recent Wall Street Journal report and is scheduled to launch next month, as disclosed in a Meta blog post.
The decision to offer an ad-free subscription comes after years of legal disputes, regulatory actions, and court decisions in the European Union.
These developments have left Meta unable to assert a contractual right or legitimate interest in tracking and profiling users for ad targeting.
Although Meta continues these practices at the moment, it is doing so without a clear legal basis. However, Meta has expressed its intention to shift to a consent-based model.
Under regional data protection laws, the only remaining avenue for Meta's ad tracking and profiling business is to obtain freely given consent from users.
Nevertheless, Meta's interpretation of "free consent" through this subscription proposal, which essentially presents the choice of "pay us or be tracked," is likely to face criticism from privacy advocates.
According to Meta's blog post, the fee for opting out of tracking and targeting (i.e., the ad-free subscription) is €9.99 per month on the web or €12.99 per month on iOS or Android for linked Facebook and Instagram accounts within a user's Accounts Center.
Starting from March 2024, an additional fee of €6 per month on the web and €8 per month on iOS or Android will apply for each additional account listed in a user's Account Center.
For users with multiple accounts on Meta's platforms, the cost of accessing Meta's services without tracking and profiling can quickly accumulate.
Even for a user with a single account on either Facebook or Instagram, the expense of safeguarding their privacy from Meta's tracking and profiling could reach approximately €120 per year for web use or just over €155 for mobile usage.
Edited by Nikola Djuric