Privacy and Antitrust Concerns Addressed: Reduced Subscription Fees for Instagram and Facebook

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Privacy and Antitrust Concerns Addressed: Reduced Subscription Fees for Instagram and Facebook

Reduction offer in monthly subscription charges for Instagram and Facebook

All those who pay monthly subscription fees to Instagram and Facebook will be happy to learn that the company has offered to take almost half of the charges. A senior Meta executive officially said on Tuesday, 19 March 2024, that Meta Platforms has offered to minimize the charges of monthly subscription fees for Instagram and Facebook after a long discussion with privacy regulators. Currently, the users pay 9.99 euros as subscription fees and according to the new offer, the amount will be 5.99 euros. This proposal comes to address the rising concerns of privacy and antitrust regulators. 

It is worth noting that, in November 2023, the social media giant introduced a monthly subscription fee for Facebook and Instagram. Through these monthly charges, the users were able to use both platforms without the interruption of ads. However, the critics argue that the service, which requires users to pay a fee for enhanced privacy, is contradictory to the ethos of both platforms. Simply put, the move came in the middle of constant rising criticism from users who are against the policy of subscription charges that launched in Europe last year.  

Instead of putting a permanent stop to the subscription fee, Meta has decided to reduce the cost and it will be interesting to watch how critics will take this move. The motive behind the introduction of monthly paid service is to obey the Digital Markets Act which restrains its ability to personalize advertisements for users without their permission and it majorly affects its income source. During the hearing, Tim Lamb, Meta’s lawyer informed the European Commission “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.” 

In addition to this, Mr. Lamb said, “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 as soon as possible.” However, Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy activist has a different opinion on this issue and said that the problem is not related to the fee; our matter is completely different.

He shared his thoughts by quoting the EU privacy legislation, “In reality it is not about the amount of money- it is about the ‘pay or okay’ approach as a whole. The entire purpose of ‘pay or okay’ is to get users to click on okay, even if this is not their free and genuine choice. We do not think the mere change in the amount makes this approach legal.” 

The matter dragged into the court and the motive behind the hearing is to give users of Meta and third parties the chance to present clarity on how these subscription fees comply with the Digital Markets Act. Mark Zuckerberg’s owned firm is currently discussing the matter with data protection authorities, particularly the Irish watchdog, after presenting the lowered offer to regulators earlier this year. Users who are worried about being tracked get a free service funded by ad revenues.

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