Meta, the company behind Facebook, has begun to roll out its advertisement-free subscription option for Facebook and Instagram in Europe, with users in Malta now being asked to make the choice before they can continue to use the social media platforms.

Meta announced the new paid tier at the end of October, and illustrates how big tech companies are complying with new rules in Europe. In its announcement, Meta said it was complying with “evolving European regulations” by introducing the new subscription service in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

As from November, users in the regions are being asked to choose, when using Facebook and Instagram, to opt for the free version with targeted ads – meaning Meta will use profile data to provide advertising, or to subscribe and pay a monthly fee without seeing any ads.

As for the cost, it will range from €9.99 monthly for web usage, to €12.99 monthly for iOS and Android devices, and will apply to a user’s linked Facebook and Instagram accounts. Further, from 1st March 2024, Meta will be charging users an additional €6 (web version) and €8 (mobile version) for additional accounts.

Meta has built its empire by offering free social networking services to users, while selling ads to companies who want to reach that audience, thereby making use of the individual profile data to be able to provide targeted ads.

Meta is not alone in updating its terms of service, with Amazon, Apple, Google, TikTok and others also making changes to comply with new EU rules surrounding data privacy, a market of around 450 million people across 27 countries.

Last July, the European Court of Justice, in a bid to protect EU citizens’ privacy, effectively barred Meta from grouping data collected about users across its platforms, which also includes WhatsApp in addition to Instagram and Facebook, including from outside websites and apps, unless receiving consent from users. This followed a massive €390 million fine levied against Meta for forcing users to accept personlised ads as a condition of using Facebook.

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