Meta launches ad-free subscription plans for Facebook and Instagram in Europe

Service will be available across the EU from November, priced from $10 per month

Meta's revenue from July to September surged by 23 per cent year-on-year to more than $34.1 billion. Reuters
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Meta is introducing a paid subscription option that will eliminate ads from Facebook and Instagram for users in Europe.

The service will be available from November and will be priced at €9.99 ($10.59) per month when accessed on the web or €12.99 a month for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.

“Regardless of where you purchase, the subscription will apply to all linked Facebook and Instagram accounts in a user’s accounts centre,” Meta said in a statement.

The initial subscription will cover all linked accounts until March 1 next year. After that, an additional fee of €6 per month on the web and €8 per month on iOS and Android platforms will apply for each additional account listed in a user’s accounts centre.

The new subscription model aims to address concerns raised by EU states regarding Meta's data collection practices and advertising targeting.

“We believe in an ad-supported internet, which gives people access to personalised products and services regardless of their economic status … but we respect the spirit and purpose of these evolving European regulations and are committed to complying with them,” Meta said.

The EU regulations pose a potential threat to Meta's capacity to personalise ads for users without their explicit consent, thereby potentially damaging its primary source of revenue.

In the third quarter, the company's advertising sales contributed more than 98.5 per cent to overall sales, growing by about 23.5 per cent on an annual basis to more than $33.6 billion.

Over the past few months, the EU has been exerting anti-trust pressure on the world's leading social media network over its targeted advertising and data collection practices.

In July, Meta suffered a setback when it unsuccessfully challenged a German data restriction order, as the court supported the authority of the German anti-trust watchdog to investigate privacy breaches as well.

Earlier this year, Meta was fined €390 million ($414 million) by Ireland's Data Privacy Commissioner and was instructed not to rely on the "contract" as a legal foundation for delivering ads to users that are tailored to their online behaviour.

Subsequently, Meta said it was planning to seek user consent within the EU before enabling businesses to direct targeted advertisements, with the aim of complying with the changing regulatory demands in the region.

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In August, the California-based company said it would move users to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation as the legal basis of consent for the purpose of processing data collected on its platforms for advertising purposes.

“We made that change to address a number of evolving and emerging regulatory requirements in the region,” Meta said.

Updated: October 30, 2023, 3:44 PM