Meta forced to stop personalized ads in EU, but introduces subscription service
The European Data Protection Board (EROD) has ordered Meta Platforms (Facebook, Instagram) to stop displaying personalized ads in the EU. Meta is responding by offering a paid subscription to bypass these restrictions.
- EROD has banned Meta from using data to personalize ads in the EU.
- Meta is introducing a paid subscription to avoid ads.
- The subscription price on Instagram is £57, higher than on other services.
- The new regulations may prove ineffective, as users can still consent to data processing.
New bans on Met in EU
No more personalized ads on Facebook and Instagram (finally)? That's what the European Data Protection Board (EROD) decision would say. However, there is a scowl that the tech giant has negotiated for itself.
EROD announced on November 1 a decision according to which Meta is to stop displaying ads based on the tracking results of users logging into the corporation's services from the European Economic Community. According to the Council, this is forbidden by EU rules protecting the right to privacy. EROD's action stems, according to the institution's chairwoman Anu Talus, from Meta's failure to meet last year's legal requirements.
Another opinion on the subject from the institution's management: "The mishandling of millions of people's personal data on Facebook is a business model for this company," according to Aleid Wolfsen, head of the Dutch Data Protection Authority and vice chairman of EROD. According to Wolfsen, the European regulator's decision will mean that the privacy of users of Meta's platforms will now be better protected.
The executor of the EROD's "urgently binding" decision is to be the Irish DPA. This is because Meta's European headquarters is Dublin (the company chose this country for tax reasons - thus saving money by circumventing the higher taxation of individual countries in the community, another controversy in its operations).
The Irish authority is to take "final measures" within two weeks, imposing a ban on the processing of personal data to publish behaviorally personalized ads.
The new regulations had the potential to be a blow to the corporation, which makes its money mainly from personalized ads. 90%. of their income Meta Platforms achieves from Facebook and Instagram ads. In the past quarter, the corporation's advertising revenues increased year-on-year from $27.24 billion to $33.64 billion.
Want to go ad-free on Facebook and Instagram? Buy a subscription
If you've logged into Instagram recently, for example, you've seen a message about the possibility to buy a subscription that will exempt us from seeing ads. This is the catch, allowing the Met to circumvent the new legal regulations. Anyway, this is not some special "scam" to which EROD could respond, since the authority itself suggested a similar solution to Meta.
The thing is that the price of a subscription on the aforementioned Instagram is as high as PLN 57. This is significantly more than similar ad-removing subscriptions on YouTube or Spotify. There, we get full freedom from ads, while Instagram will still show us suggested posts based on our interests. And anyone who regularly uses the site knows that their number has almost doubled recently, which is very disruptive to browsing the feed (they account for up to 40% of the posts displayed). And we won't turn off that spam for even £60.
So why is Meta complying with EU regulations in this way? If we do not choose a subscription, we must consent to the processing of our data. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, everything will be fine. Personalized ads will be displayed at our own request.
Why is the price so exorbitant? As Boleslaw Breczko writes in Gazeta Wyborcza, "Facebook probably doesn't care about getting as many people as possible to switch to the paid version, and the purpose of the high price is to deter and consent to the user's behavioral data collection."
This is how personalized ads were displayed to us, so they will continue to be, and the new regulations will prove to be completely toothless. The Met's profits won't fall, and we still won't escape tracking codes. Unless you pay £10 more than a Netflix subscription....