Facebook and Instagram get ad-free subscription service in Europe



Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during Meta Connect event at Meta headquarters in Menlo Park, California on September 27, 2023.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Meta said on Monday it will offer an ad-free subscription option for Facebook and Instagram in Europe after it faced a major challenge from regulators in the region this year.

People in the European Union, which includes 27 countries, the European Economic Area and Switzerland, will be able to pay 9.99 euros ($11) per month on the web or 12.99 euros ($14) per month month on iOS and Android to access the ad-free version of Facebook and Instagram.

This fee covers all linked accounts for a user. But beginning March 1, 2024, an additional fee of 6 euros per month on the web and 8 euros per month on apps will apply for each of a user’s additional accounts.

The move comes after Ireland’s data protection authority slapped Meta with a 390 million euro fine in January, related to the company’s breaches of Europe’s flagship privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation. It found that in order for users to access Meta’s platforms, they had to accept the terms of service and therefore accept their user data being used for targeted ads. The Irish regulator said the practice breached GDPR.

Meta tried and was unsuccessful in challenging the ruling. Earlier this year, the company moved to a “consent” method where users would have to accept whether or not to let Meta target it with ads using data collected from its platforms.

Meta said the introduction of the subscription service is aimed at addressing regulatory concerns.

“To comply with evolving European regulations, we are introducing a new subscription option in the EU, EEA and Switzerland,” the company wrote in blog post on Monday.

“In November, we will be offering people who use Facebook or Instagram and reside in these regions the choice to continue using these personalised services for free with ads, or subscribe to stop seeing ads,” the company wrote. “While people are subscribed, their information will not be used for ads.”

Meta said that the option for users in Europe to buy a subscription with no ads “balances the requirements of European regulators while giving users choice and allowing Meta to continue serving all people.”

The European Court of Justice, the EU’s top court, said in a ruling this year that a company may offer an “alternative” version of its service that does not rely on data collection for ads. Meta pointed to this ruling as a reason for introducing the subscription offer.

“In its ruling, the CJEU (European Court of Justice) expressly recognised that a subscription model, like the one we are announcing, is a valid form of consent for an ads funded service,” Meta wrote.


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