As everybody knows, Facebook and Insta make a lot of their money by targeting ads at people – but that targeting has attracted the attention of regulators in the EU and new regulations are making it tricky to keep within the law. So Meta is offering to remove the ads in exchange for money. Last month it was just considering it, but now it's happening.
The regulation issue is one of the key reasons Threads hasn't launched in Europe yet; while the service doesn't currently run advertising, parent firm Meta clearly thinks that when it does it'll hit an EU-shaped obstacle. So Meta has come up with a cunning plan: if you give it cash, it'll make the ads on Instagram and Facebook go away. Presumably the same will apply to Threads if it launches in Europe.
The move is designed to provide choice, which basically boils down to a choice between the same ads and ad tracking as before or a paid-for, ad-free and apparently tracking-free experience. That means Meta will be able to comply with evolving EU regulations, which are all about users consenting to tracking. "If you choose to continue to use our products for free, your experience will stay the same", Meta says.
How much will ad-free Instagram and Facebook cost?
Meta has announced that it will be introducing paid memberships for Facebook and Instagram in the European Union, the European Economic Area and in Switzerland. The membership is not launching in the UK as we're not in the EU or the EEA.
The price will be €9.99 per month if you buy on the web, or €12.99 a month if you buy via iOS or Android. No matter where you subscribe, your subscription will apply to all of your linked Facebook and Instagram accounts. If you can see them in your Accounts Centre, your subscription will cover them all.
The big question here is whether the ad-free subscription will come to other countries. While the legislation we're talking about here is only for very specific parts of the world right now, if significant numbers of people subscribe then that's going to send Meta a very strong signal that there's a demand for an ad-free subscription. Don't be too surprised if you see a similar option appearing outside of the EU too.