The effects of the EU’s regulatory crusade on Big Tech are beginning to make themselves known to consumers. Yesterday, Meta launched ad-free subscription services for Facebook and Instagram within the bloc. Users will be able to pay from €9.99 to use the social media platforms without seeing ads — or continue using them for free and have their data collected.
We are probably not alone in the experience that ads have completely taken over much of what began as a means of actually connecting with friends (and sharing photos of our lunch). Adding to that, with more and more sophisticated targeted advertising and tracking across various apps, ads have become, at times, spookily accurate.
When surveyed, the instinctual reaction of the TNW editorial office was a resounding “no.” However, €9.99 a month to escape a barrage of ads might not seem such a horrible proposition for everyone — although, given Meta’s revenue model, one that the tech giant did not want to have to make.
“We believe in a free, ad-supported internet – and will continue to offer people free access to our personalised products and services regardless of income,” the company said in a statement. However, it said it was introducing the new subscription model to comply with European Union regulations.
Meta also, perhaps a little resentfully, added that it “respects the spirit and purpose of these evolving European regulations, and are committed to complying with them.”
Purchase via an app store, pay more
The ad-free subscription service will also be available to residents in the EEA and Switzerland, and have a different price depending on where you purchase it. The €9.99 is when buying it on the web, whereas paying for it via iOS or Android will cost €12.99. Meta stated that the higher price was due to the additional charges by Apple and Google through their respective policies.
The subscription service will be available for people 18 years of age and older, whereas the company stated it would “continue to explore how to provide teens with a useful and responsible ad experience given this evolving regulatory landscape.”
Meta said that if users chose to continue to engage with its platforms for free, their experience would stay the same. Advertisers will also be able to continue running personalised advertising campaigns in Europe.