Facebook and Instagram are charging, too: What’s in store for users?

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Meta will be charging a subscription fee for the ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram. How deep you must dig into your pockets and what impact this will have in practice.

Meta is introducing a subscription model on its two social media giants, Instagram and Facebook, allowing users to deactivate the sites’ advertising. Mark Zuckerberg’s (39) company argues that this aligns with Europe’s changed data protection regulations. How much does the subscription cost, and what is behind the measure?

The change affects users in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Since the beginning of November, Facebook and Instagram users can choose between free use of personalized services with advertising or purchasing a subscription to deactivate advertising in their customer center.

Depending on the platform, the monthly costs are €9.99/month for web use and €12.99/month for iOS and Android. Those who want to use both services ad-free will pay an additional six euros on web platforms and eight euros more on mobile platforms as of March 1, 2024. This means that from March next year, ad-free use of Facebook and Instagram on a smartphone will cost an impressive €21 per month, compared to €16 for the web version.

How Meta justifies the move

In a blog post, the company justifies the move with the changed European data protection laws and the associated higher costs. These are therefore, de facto, passed on to the end customer. Because the company wanted to simultaneously offer its products to as many people as possible, it decided to take the path it has now taken.

In particular, bundling data from several platforms under the umbrella of a parent company requires the express consent of users. Only at the beginning of the year did the Irish data protection authority impose a fine of 390 million euros on Meta in this context. In the future, Meta will no longer process this data for personalized advertising for customers who pay for it.

Back in August, Meta announced its intention to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation and ask users to consent to the processing of collected data for advertising purposes. However, because this did not happen, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority pressured the EU to block Meta’s services in the worst-case scenario. Brussels followed the argument and gave the Zuckerberg empire a 14-day deadline to adapt its data protection accordingly. Meta’s announcement of the new subscription models for Instagram and Facebook followed on the same day. Meta has so far remained silent on the extent to which the changes could make a European relaunch possible for the Threads short message service.

Facebook with advertising: what will change?
Users who continue to opt for free use will retain their usual experience, and the tools and settings provided by Meta to control the advertising experience will remain the same, the company assures. Advertisers will still be able to run personalized advertising campaigns in Europe and reach users who opt for the ad-financed version of the online service.

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