Almost everyone has noticed: on Facebook and Instagram, you are suddenly given a choice: explicitly agree to personalized ads or get a paid version of the social media platforms, without ads. This causes confusion.
In recent days, users received a serious-looking message when they opened it: they had to effectively give their consent to Meta to use their personal data for advertising purposes. Alternative: €12.99 per month subscription for the app on your phone (€9.99 if you use Facebook via the website). After reading the message, some users thought that they only had a choice between paying or canceling their account, but that is not true. The message looks like this:
Facebook and Instagram are categorically demanding permission because they are at odds with Europe. A few years ago — when new GDPR legislation came into effect — apps only gave users the option to delete their accounts or consent to personalized advertising. You couldn’t opt out of personalizing those ads to your habits without losing your social media, and that was against the new law, it was ruled.
The European subsidiary of Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is based in Ireland. The supervisor there determined that Meta was not actually in compliance. By offering this subscription, the company hopes that it will be left alone for now, but there is still debate about that. After all, as a user, you cannot use Facebook or Instagram without paying and without your data being used for ads.
Meta apps collect all kinds of data about their users, such as place of residence, age, education, and hobbies. Platforms also monitor what type of messages people look at. This way sites know exactly what people are interested in. They can display highly targeted ads and advertisers love that.
Meta continues to favor ads, but European privacy watchdogs will look at this ‘critically’
Meta itself does not believe that the Internet exists without personalized advertising. “We believe in an ad-supported Internet that gives people access to personalized products and services regardless of their economic situation,” she says. “It also allows small businesses to reach potential customers, grow their businesses and create new markets, boosting the growth of the European economy.”
European privacy watchdogs will take a “critical” look at Meta’s current solution for collecting user consent, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Data Protection Authority told our colleagues at AD. But the fact that the discussion is far from over became clear at the beginning of this month, shortly after Meta announced the new subscriptions. Regulators then decided that Meta was no longer allowed to display personalized ads, because it had no “valid legal basis” to do so. Until it continues. But you can continue to use the apps for free if you choose.
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