Navigating Meta’s Big Change: Paying for Privacy in EU

November 15, 2023
In response to EU regulations, Meta recently introduced an optional ad-free experience for Facebook and Instagram at 9.99€ per month if purchased on the web, or 12.99€ per month on iOS and Adroid. This means that users now face a choice: continue using Facebook and Instagram with ads, and allow the tracking and use of their personal data, or pay for an ad-free environment. In this post, we'll dive into what this change means, based on the article by legal expert Maarja Pild and insights from Stan Schroeder.

Limited Options for Users:

Meta's interpretation of a summer ruling by the European Court, suggesting a paid alternative for voluntary consent is an acceptable way to keep collecting personal data, has stirred controversy. The court's vague stance on the fee's appropriateness has led to widespread criticism of Meta's actions and raised questions about the legitimacy of this interpretation.

Critics have raised concerns about the size and fairness of the fees, as users may find themselves either paying substantial amounts for multiple accounts to ensure privacy, or accept that their activity is tracked even off platforms, so that it can be used for personalized ads. With over 3 billion Meta users, these subscription costs can become a financial burden for many, and limit users' right for privacy if they cannot afford it.

Ad-Free, Yet Suggestions Persist:

Schroeder's experience reveals that despite paying for an ad-free subscription, Meta continues to display "Suggested for you" posts. While not labeled as ads, they closely resemble ads and persistently appear in the default feeds of Facebook and Instagram.

Despite the monthly fee, subscribers gain no additional benefits. Users cannot eliminate suggested posts or gain more control over their feed. Meta's approach stands in contrast to other platforms offering additional features for subscribers. Essentially, with this decision, Meta guides the users to make the "right choice" - keep using the platforms for free, because what Meta can earn with offering data for advertising is substantially more than what they could potentially earn with paid subscriptions.

And here's one more twist – if you pay to stop ads as a content creator, Facebook limits your own ability to advertise. This is again a gentle nudge for content creators to stay on the platform and keep using it for advertising purposes.

Looking Ahead:

Users have to decide if paying for more privacy is worth it and how it will affect their experience on the platform. As we go forward, the balance between what users want and what Meta wants is something to keep an eye on. Perhaps, this change is another indicator that one day Facebook will become obsolete, and people may start looking for other places to connect.

Meanwhile, if you want an ad-free community, the Powerful Marketers Community could be a great fit for you!

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