Did you get your paid Instagram message? Meta starts charging European users who don’t want to give up data

Meta has already plunged Europe into the dilemma it announced weeks ago. Some users woke up today with a message from Mark Zuckerberg’s company that puts them between the sword and the wall: either they pay 12.99 euros every month or give up their data so that the company can do business with it. The notification states that Meta is introducing this “new option” because “laws in your region are changing.” In reality, it is the formula that the company has found to bypass the regulations imposed by the European Union.

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Last December, Brussels concluded that Meta could not require users to necessarily accept personalized ads that track their activity; and in May, the Data Protection Commission of Ireland imposed a fine of 1.2 billion euros on Meta for infringing on its social networks the protection of users’ data and privacy. To avoid these regulations – and therefore even more penalties – the multinational has devised this new plan that puts all the responsibility on the user and is, in fact, a poisoned gift.

Meta argues that this modality complies with European legislation, because it gives the user the option not to transfer the data; but at the same time the cost of the subscription is so high – it exceeds that of most platforms of streaming-, which all predicts that few people will agree to pay it and that most will click the “Use” button [Instagram] free with ads”.

It’s impossible not to read this operation by Mark Zuckerberg’s company as a move to push European users to hand over their data in order to serve them personalized ads, which is where the business is. The option to use Instagram with ads is sold as follows: “Discover products and brands through personalized ads while using your free Instagram account. Your information will be used for ads.”

Ads, big business

Meta’s main source of revenue comes from the sale of advertising in its digital spaces, especially third-party ad marketing: in 2021, the company took in $114.934 billion in advertising (97.5% of your billing). In statements to The Wall Street Journal, a Meta spokesperson assured that the company still believes in the model of a free service that is monetized by personalized ads (which is what it was until now). According to Meta data made public in the first half of 2023, in the European Union Instagram has 257 million monthly users and Facebook has 258 million users.

Mark Zuckerberg is not the only one who, in recent months, has considered implementing a payment option in his social networks. In July, the owner of X (formerly Twitter), Elon Musk, also announced that he wanted to impose a paywall on all users.

2023-11-08 09:53:55
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