Meta could begin introducing ad-free subscription plans for Facebook and Instagram users in Europe as the tech giant attempts to appease EU regulators threaten to halt a major revenue stream on the social media platforms.

According to Reuters, which cited two people familiar with the matter, multiple pricing ranges have been discussed, with a $10.49 per month plan looking the most feasible. 

The upcoming pricing plan comes as Meta remains in the target of new EU regulations that could halt it personalising adverts to users without consent. This would curb the platform’s major source of revenue. 

In November, a Luxemburg court ruled that Facebook “cannot justify” its use of personal data to target customers with specific adverts unless it gained consent. 

Meta will likely be able to appease regulators if they offer a paid option for the platform, as users have “a choice” to remain in the advertised option. 

A paid ad-free option for the platform could arrive in the coming months, Reuters reported.

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By GlobalData

Users opting to buy the ad-free service on mobile devices will be charged more to cover the commissions charged by Apple and Google app stores, a source told the publication. 

Many social media platforms have recently begun discussing the possibility of charging users for an ad-free service, as privacy regulations look to get tougher on the traditional method of personalised advertisements. 

Last month, Verdict reported on Elon Musk toying with the idea of charging all users a “small monthly payment” to access X. The billionaire said it was the most effective way to “combat vast armies of bots” on his platform. 

Bytedance-owned TikTok released a statement on Tuesday (3 October) announcing it had started testing an ad-free subscription service. 

Meta is already under intense scruitny from EU regulators

Meta is already under intense scruitny for the way it uses its user’s data. As well as the recent court ruling, the EU’s flagship antitrust legislation, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), is expected to be enforced starting from March 2024 with fines of up to 10% of a “gatekeeper’s” global turnover, research company GlobalData explained.

This set of rules will hold Meta and other large online platfroms as targets for scruitny over how data is handled.

Meta’s data-related practices also fall under the DMA because they operate the leading tools for buying and selling ads and the biggest market for online ad deals.

In May, the tech giant was fined a record $1.3bn by the EU for violating its data privacy rules. 

The Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC) claimed that Meta had failed to properly protect EU Facebook account data from US spy agencies.

Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram owner had violated the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, the Irish watchdog said.

The IDPC claims Meta’s handling of EU Facebook data which was moved to the US through standard contractual clauses (SSCs) “did not address the risks to the fundamental rights and freedoms” of European users.