Facebook and Instagram Face Fresh Scrutiny Under EU’s Strict Digital Regulations

Facebook and Instagram Face Fresh Scrutiny Under EU's Strict Digital Regulations
Facebook and Instagram introduce ad-free subscriptions in Europe to comply with the EU's Digital Services Act, offering users greater control and privacy.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is facing increased scrutiny and regulatory changes due to the European Union’s strict digital regulations. These regulations are part of the EU’s broader efforts to protect user privacy and ensure safer online environments. The company has introduced new subscription models and compliance measures to align with the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Ad-Free Subscription Options

Starting in November 2024, Meta will offer users in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland the option to subscribe to ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram. This move is a response to the EU’s stringent privacy rules, which require platforms to obtain user consent before showing personalized ads. The subscription will cost €9.99 per month for desktop users and €12.99 per month for iOS and Android users, reflecting the commissions charged by app stores. From March 2024, an additional fee will apply for each extra account linked in a user’s Accounts Center​.

Digital Services Act (DSA) Overview

The DSA, which takes full effect on February 17, 2024, aims to create a safer and more accountable online environment by regulating online intermediaries and platforms. It sets clear rules to prevent illegal activities, protect fundamental rights, and ensure user safety. Key provisions include:

  • Better protection of fundamental rights and stronger online safety measures.
  • Enhanced transparency in content moderation decisions.
  • Greater control for users over the content they engage with.
  • Specific rules for very large online platforms (VLOPs) with over 45 million users in the EU​.

Impacts on Platforms and Users

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have had to introduce new features to comply with these regulations. Users will now have more control over their data and content engagement. For instance, they can opt out of personalized advertising and choose to view content in chronological order instead of algorithm-based recommendations. Additionally, the DSA prohibits targeting ads to vulnerable groups, including children, based on their online activities​.

Challenges and Future Outlook

While Meta has expressed its commitment to complying with EU regulations, it continues to advocate for an ad-supported internet model. The company believes that offering ad-free subscriptions alongside traditional ad-supported services strikes a balance between regulatory requirements and user choice. However, the compliance measures come at a time of significant legal and financial scrutiny for Meta, with the company reporting increased advertising sales but also facing potential fines and sanctions for regulatory violations​​.

The implementation of the DSA and DMA marks a significant shift in how digital platforms operate in Europe, potentially setting a precedent for global digital regulation. Companies must navigate these changes carefully to ensure compliance while maintaining their business models.

About the author

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Shweta Bansal

Shweta, a tech journalist from New Delhi, specializes in AI and IOT. Her insightful articles, featured in leading tech publications, blend complex tech trends with engaging narratives, emphasizing the role of women in tech.

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