EU charges Meta over ad-free feature on Facebook, Instagram

London. European Union regulators on Monday accused social media company Meta of violating the bloc’s new digital competition rules by forcing users of Facebook and Instagram to pay to see or avoid ads. Meta, the US company that operates popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, started offering European users the option to pay for ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram in November last year in order to comply with strict data privacy rules in European countries.

European users have to pay 10 euros, or $10.75 per month, to avoid ads on Facebook and Instagram. The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said that preliminary findings of an investigation into Meta’s move show that the social media company’s payment or consent advertising model violates the organization’s Digital Markets Act. The Commission said that Meta’s model does not allow users to freely exercise their right to consent to targeting their personal data with personalized online ads from its various services, including Facebook, Instagram, Marketplace, WhatsApp and Messenger.

The Commission launched its investigation soon after the new Digital Competition Regulations (DMA) came into force. This investigation has to be completed by March 2025. Meta now has a chance to respond to the Commission. If found guilty, Meta could have to pay a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual global revenue, which could be up to billions of euros. Meta said in a statement, “The no-ad subscription follows the directive of the highest court in Europe and complies with the DMA. We look forward to further constructive dialogue with the European Commission to conclude this investigation.”

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