WSJ Reports: Ad-Free Subscription Option in the Works for Facebook and Instagram Users in Europe

October 3, 2023
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Stephanie Bedard-Chateauneuf
Meta is considering introducing ad-free subscription options in Europe, in an effort to comply with stringent data privacy regulations in the region, following a recent ruling by the European Union's highest court requiring user consent for displaying ads.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Meta (NASDAQ:META), the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is contemplating the introduction of ad-free subscription options for users in Europe. This move is aimed at ensuring compliance with the stringent data privacy regulations prevalent on the continent.

Meta is considering a subscription fee of approximately 10 euros ($10.50) per month for users who wish to enjoy an ad-free experience on Facebook and Instagram when accessed through desktop browsers. Furthermore, the report suggests that each additional account would incur a cost of 6 euros.

For mobile users, the subscription prices would be slightly higher, around 13 euros ($13.60) per month. This increase is due to the need to account for the commissions levied by Apple and Google app stores on in-app payments.

The motivation behind this move is Meta's desire to align with European Union data privacy rules, which pose a significant challenge to its existing business model centered around personalized advertising.

Meta intends to offer users the freedom to choose between continuing to use the platforms with advertisements or opting for the ad-free, paid version, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In response to these developments, Meta stated, "Meta believes in the value of free services which are supported by personalized ads. However, we continue to explore options to ensure we comply with evolving regulatory requirements. We have nothing further to share at this time."

In July, the European Union's highest court ruled that Meta must obtain user consent before displaying ads, a decision that has the potential to disrupt the company's revenue streams that rely heavily on crafting targeted ads based on users' online interests and digital behaviors.

It remains uncertain whether EU regulators will endorse this subscription plan or demand more affordable alternatives. The Wall Street Journal points out that one concern among regulators is whether the proposed subscription fees will be prohibitive for the majority of users who wish to avoid targeted advertisements.