Meta may introduce paid, ad-free plans for Facebook and Instagram in response to European data privacy laws. Here’s the latest.
A new report from The New York Times suggests Zuckerberg may borrow a page from Musk’s playbook in asking users to pay a subscription fee. Anyone who pays for a subscription would not see ads in the app, according to an anonymous source who is familiar with the company’s plans. Meta believes offering an ad-free option may help it fend off privacy concerns by giving users an alternative to data analysis for the purpose of serving targeted ads.
The report does not offer an idea of how much such a subscription would cost, nor does it suggest the ad-supported version would cease to operate in Europe. Instead, Meta would be shifting the core model of its business, potentially away from serving advertisers to providing a paid product that can support itself in a world where online advertising budgets are drying up.
Europe is also cracking down on how large tech companies can use the data it collects about users. The European Union handed down a ruling in July that would prevent Meta from using data gathered on Instagram combined with a user’s Facebook or WhatsApp data to target ads unless it received explicit consent from users when doing so.
That’s one reason why Meta also delayed the release of Threads in Europe, due to regulatory concerns of how closely tied the Twitter competitor is to Instagram. Since Threads requires an Instagram account to sign-in, it effectively uses the same data. Even some early users were reporting they could not delete their Threads account without also negatively impacting their Instagram accounts.
The company has also considered shifting to make highly personalized advertising an opt-in experience for Europeans. If the EU accepts this proposal as an alternative, then the ad-supported versions of Facebook and Instagram would prompt Europeans to opt-in to ad targeting.