Meta is testing versions of Facebook and Instagram that will allow users to pay for ad-free versions.
However, don’t expect to see this in the US anytime soon – this is only for users in the EU currently.
While on the surface this sounds like a good thing for users, the strategy has less to do with feeding users fewer ads and more to do with an attempt to pacify regulators in the EU.
Meta announced that Facebook and Instagram are offering ad-free versions in the EU for €9.99 per month for the web and €12.99 for users accessing the apps through their iPhones or Android phones.
Meta gets roughly 95% of its revenue through ads that are targeted to users based on interactions through their platforms.
This strategy has continually run afoul of regulators and goes against the EU’s strict privacy laws over big tech’s gathering of personal data.
In January of 2023, Meta was fined a record 390 million Euros ($414 million USD) for its targeted ad practices.
The paid option allows the company to provide regulators assurance that users can opt out of having their data scraped.
It is unclear if Meta expects anyone to actually sign up for the ad-free versions and pay the fee or opt-in to allow the company to continue to gather data.
The new model allows Meta to win either way: users will either pay a fee to be ad-free or continue to see ads that generate revenue for the company.