As the old adage goes, “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” and the European Union is none too happy with that state of affairs when it comes to Meta’s data-loving children Facebook and Instagram.
Back in July, an EU court ruled that those on online services must actively consent to the use of their personal data. Given the drop in Meta’s revenue that came with the iPhone’s Ask Not to Track feature, it seems fairly likely that most users won’t consent.
But there’s no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to running the expensive servers and infrastructure that keep Facebook and Instagram from falling over, and now the Wall Street Journal reports that Meta has a contingency plan for when the EU forces its hand: a paid ad-free version to give European consumers a choice.
The pricing revealed by the paper seems… optimistic. The company has apparently pitched an idea where it charges users €10 (~NZ$17.75) per month to access an ad-free Instagram or Facebook account on desktop, with an extra €6 (~NZ$10.65) for every linked account. On mobile, it would be even more, jumping to €13 (~NZ$23) per month to make up for Apple and Google’s app store tax.
Of course, users will be able to sidestep that cost — which comes close to the price of a Netflix account — by just agreeing to let Meta continue to use their personal data as it sees fit.
It may or may not be in the spirit of the EU rules if that consent is incentivised, and we might just see the European Union insist on something cheaper or even free.
If that happens, then Meta might just pull its services from Europe: it’s yet to launch its Twitter rival, Threads, in the region because of concern over the upcoming Digital Markets Act, afterall. Though doing so would be expensive, given Meta achieved about US$7.2 billion of its quarterly revenue from the region in the second quarter of 2023.
Would you pay to opt out of Facebook and Instagram’s targeted advertising? You’re not likely to get the option. It seems that this is just being developed as a way of dealing with EU legislation, with no appetite to expand it to New Zealand, or indeed anywhere else in the world. It seems Meta would rather have your data than your cold, hard cash.