Facebook and Instagram owner Meta have announced that they will charge EU users who wish to avail of the bloc's data protection benefits. (EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO)


Facebook, Instagram to make users pay to take up EU data protection benefits


Facebook and Instagram owner Meta will charge EU users who want to avail of the bloc’s data protection benefits, it says.

Big tech companies must give users the option not to have their personal data collected for advertising purposes, European data protection regulations say.

Meta previously unsuccessfully tried to escape the requirement by claiming that users have that right simply by not using Facebook or Instagram.

Now, it says users in the European Economic Area who do not want to be tracked will have to pay for the privilege, by buying “no ads” subscriptions.

Starting in November, Meta will offer EEA users “the choice to continue using these personalised services for free with ads, or subscribe to stop seeing ads,” the company says.

Those opting to pay for the “no ads” subscription will not have their data utilised for advertising.

The ad-free package is set to cost €9.99 a month, or €12.99 if users pay for the service through iOS or Android.

Meta confirms the new subscription model is being put in place to satisfy EU GDPR rules.

The option for people to purchase a subscription for no ads “balances the requirements of European regulators while giving users choice and allowing Meta to continue serving all people in the EU, EEA and Switzerland,” it says.

The new subscription model has previously been recognised by the EU courts as a “valid form of consent for an ads funded service”, Meta argues.

Like many tech companies, Meta has struggled to adapt to ever-increasing regulation within the European Union. It is currently under preliminary investigation over accusations it failed to properly implement EU censorship rules.

Such developments have slowed the release of Meta products within the bloc. The company has so far shown no interest in launching its Twitter competitor Threads in Europe.

Rumours continue to swirl as to whether Elon Musk might pull Twitter itself out of Europe over its censorship requirements. Musk has so far denied these.