The payment formulas for Facebook and Instagram are again up to the judge: in some cases Meta makes the choice up front.
Since the end of October, Meta has offered the option to pay for services like Facebook and Instagram. Meta implemented the intervention so it can continue to collect data from non-paying users with impunity. Shortly before rolling out the subscription, the company ran into trouble with regulators: the company allegedly collected data without users’ explicit permission. By offering a payment plan, Meta has covered itself: either you pay between 10 and 13 euros to not be tracked, or you don’t. In the second case, you give Meta permission to process your data and display (targeted) advertising, depending on the logic.
This “pay or good” logic has already received a lot of criticism, not least from privacy organizations like noyb. The costs seem to be disproportionate to the income Mita is missing. The organization also claims that Meta doesn’t follow the rules exactly: Giving permission to be tracked should be as easy as withdrawing permission. The cost of 10 to 13 euros is not considered “easy” by many.
Now Meta’s payment plans are receiving criticism again, this time from privacy consultant Alexander Hanff. Hanf Describe In history how Meta no longer asks for permission from users. In other words, the pop-up that allowed users to choose whether or not to pay no longer appears. According to the consultant, this constitutes a violation of European law. This states that users should be able to make their own choices, and that they cannot be pre-filled.
It was completed in advance
This seems to be happening now. Although the majority of regular Facebook or Instagram users have seen the pop-up, there are a lot of users who visit the services less frequently. Anyone who didn’t see the popup appear before won’t see it now. Facebook and Instagram now auto-complete the question. Ads are automatically shown to users until they actively search for the payment option themselves.
This approach was said to be illegal, prompting Hanff to take the case to the Irish Data Protection Commission. That body has not yet responded to this case. Meta actually responded. The company insists that users are given a choice. Anyone who has not yet made a decision will simply see the ads. Meta says that data from these users is not used to serve ads. As a result, users are in a somewhat mediocre position: they are shown ads, but not based on their data.
The DPC will have to decide whether Meta’s approach is still illegal. It is also uncertain whether and for how long this strange situation will continue. It is also not known exactly how many users are participating.