Meta Platforms is reportedly considering offering paid versions of Facebook and Instagram without advertisements specifically for users within the European Union (EU) to address privacy concerns and other scrutiny from regulators.
Those who pay for Facebook and Instagram subscriptions would enjoy an ad-free experience in the apps, reported the New York Times (NYT) on Friday, citing sources familiar with the company’s plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity. This would give users an alternative to opt out of the company’s ad-based services that analyze their data to target ads, the people said.
At the same time, Meta would continue to offer free versions of Facebook and Instagram apps, supported by advertisements, within the EU. However, it is not clear how much the paid versions of the apps would cost or when they would be introduced by the company. Also, there is no confirmation if the product will actually be released.
In July, the social media behemoth lost its EU court fight over a 2019 German antitrust order that prohibited it from cashing in on a vast trove of users’ data without consent.
According to company “insiders” cited by the NYT, offering a paid ad-free model could help “alleviate some European regulators’ concerns,” even if some people use it. The optional tier “could serve Meta’s interests in the region,” they added.
Meta has yet to comment on the NYT report.
This reported move of paid ad-free versions by Meta comes against the backdrop of the new Digital Services Act (DSA) implemented by the EU on August 25, 2023. This act aims to regulate the online activities of tech giants like Meta, Google, Twitter, and more and expects them to be more transparent about their targeted ad and content moderation practices. The act also provides more explicit controls for users as to how their personal data can be used.
It is important to note that most of the revenue that Meta earns comes from selling targeted ads. By introducing a paid subscription model, the company would be shifting away from its main business centered on providing free app services to users and selling ads to companies who want to target that audience.