EU Considers Meta’s “Pay Or Consent” Ad Model A Violation Of DMA

The European Union isn’t happy with how Meta, particularly on their platforms Facebook and Instagram, is handling advertising. Recently, they’ve launched a new way for users to avoid ads. Users in Europe now have to choose: pay a monthly fee to use these platforms without ads, or agree to let Meta use their personal information for targeted ads.

The EU’s main concern is that this new model doesn’t really give users a fair choice. According to the EU, the model doesn’t let people choose a middle ground where they can use the platforms with minimal data use and fewer personalised ads.

Margrethe Vestager Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy commented on the purpose for the investigation, saying, “Our investigation aims to ensure in markets where gatekeepers like Meta have been accumulating personal data of millions of EU citizens over many years.

“Our preliminary view is that Meta’s advertising model fails to comply with the Digital Markets Act. And we want to empower citizens to be able to take control over their own data and choose a less personalised ads experience.”

What This Means For Meta And Users

If the EU decides Meta’s new model really does in fact go against their policies Meta could end up paying a large amount in fines. They could lose up to 10% of their global capital. The EU also says if Meta keeps going against policies, they might have to make bigger changes, like selling parts of their business or being stopped from buying other companies.

Meta disagrees with the EU. They believe their new ad model follows the highest court’s rules in Europe and fits within the Digital Markets Act. They’re looking to remain in conversation with the EU to resolve the matter.


What Exactly Is The Commission Doing To Take Action?

The EU has been trying to protect online privacy with strict laws like the GDPR and the recently implemented Digital Markets Act. This new dispute with Meta will show the EU and the digital world as a whole, how protected users are under these new policies.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market commented, “Our preliminary view is that Meta’s “Pay or Consent” business model is in breach of the DMA. The DMA is there to give back to the users the power to decide how their data is used and ensure innovative companies can compete on equal footing with tech giants on data access.”

What Happens To Meta Now?

The press release from the Commission reads, “Meta now has the possibility to exercise its rights of defence by examining the documents in the Commission’s investigation file and replying in writing to the Commission’s preliminary findings. The Commission will conclude its investigation within 12 months from the opening of proceedings on 25 March 2024.”

Hopefully by next year, a resolution is reached. Until then, Meta continues to operate. Although this is not the first lawsuit around the rights and privacy of its users, Meta needs to make sure they consider these factors to remain a popularly used platform. Users should also keep informed on these new laws and policies, so they understand their rights when it comes to being on the internet.

Not long ago, Meta’s policy mentioned that users’ media will be used to train its AI. Those who did not read their updated policies were not aware of this, and in turn could not opt out. This is another reminder for users who are concerned about how data is used.