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Meta Platforms Cuts Subscription EU Fees Amid Regulatory Pressure

 |  March 19, 2024

In response to mounting pressure from privacy and antitrust regulators, Meta Platforms has announced a significant reduction in its monthly subscription fees for Facebook and Instagram services in Europe. The move, revealed by a senior executive on Tuesday, aims to address concerns raised by privacy activists and consumer groups regarding the company’s subscription service.

The monthly subscription fee for Facebook and Instagram, previously set at 9.99 euros, will now be nearly halved to 5.99 euros. Additionally, Meta Platforms will offer a reduced fee of 4 euros for any additional accounts linked to the primary subscription. Tim Lamb, a lawyer representing Meta Platforms, highlighted that this adjustment seeks to strike a balance between compliance with European Union (EU) privacy laws and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which imposes restrictions on personalized advertising without user consent, reported Reuters.

“We have wanted to accelerate that process for some time because we need to get to a steady state … so we have offered to drop the price from 9.99 to 5.99 for a single account and 4 euros for any additional accounts,” stated Tim Lamb during a European Commission hearing. “That is by far the lowest end of the range that any reasonable person should be paying for services of this quality. And I think that is a serious offer. The regulatory uncertainty at the moment is out there and it needs to settle down quickly.”

Read more: Meta Defends Itself Against EU’s Accusations Of Misuse Of Dominance

The decision to reduce subscription fees comes amidst criticism from privacy activists like Max Schrems, who argues that even nominal fees can influence user consent regarding targeted advertisements. “We know from all research that even a fee of just 1.99 euros or less leads to a shift in consent from 3-10% that genuinely want advertisements to 99.9% that still click yes. The GDPR requires that consent must be ‘freely’ given,” Schrems emphasized, referring to the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Meta Platforms launched its subscription service in November as part of efforts to comply with the DMA, which restricts its ability to personalize advertisements without explicit user consent. However, critics have expressed concerns that the subscription model effectively mandates payment for privacy protection, potentially undermining the principle of freely given consent.

The adjustment in subscription fees reflects Meta Platforms’ ongoing efforts to navigate regulatory challenges while maintaining its user base. As discussions surrounding privacy and antitrust regulations continue, Meta Platforms aims to address regulatory concerns while sustaining its business model within the evolving digital landscape.

Source: Reuters