According to a New York Times report published on Friday, Meta is mulling paid versions of its social media platforms in the European Union that would be ad-free. The proposal has no set date, and it’s unclear how much the paid versions of Facebook and Instagram would cost.
The claimed scheme is classified, and all sources for the Times spoke on the condition of anonymity. Meta did not react immediately to Mashable’s request for comment and declined to comment to the Times. But it’s not strange that Meta would consider this option. After all, offering an ad-free experience on its apps could help the corporation to avoid EU authorities’ privacy worries and other problems.
This comes amid a years-long dispute between EU regulators and Meta over the company’s damaging data harvesting practices. In 2016, the EU passed one of the most important pieces of legislation to protect people’s online privacy and data, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Since then, it has used the GDPR to increase EU users’ online privacy and data protections.
In May, for example, Meta was fined 1.2 billion euros for violating the GDPR when Facebook transferred user data from Europe to the United States. The EU prohibited Meta from aggregating user data from Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp in July. In addition, in August, the European Union’s Digital Services Act required Meta to allow Instagram and Facebook users in Europe to view content chronologically, find search results based “only on the words they enter” rather than algorithm-based results, and view Stories and Reels from only accounts they follow.
While it’s unclear when — or if — Meta will reveal the possibility for users to pay for an ad-free experience, if given the option, I would gladly pay to remove advertisements from my social media sites. Not only because of the very real data and privacy concerns, but also because Meta won’t stop showing me ads for Temu, a firm that offers ultra-cheap goods I don’t want and will never buy, but which continuously piques my attention. I’d pay a lot of money to never see that again on my Instagram feed.