NIXSolutions: Meta’s Decision on European Users’ Ad Preferences

Meta recently shifted European Facebook users who hadn’t made a clear choice between a paid ad-free plan and a free plan with ads to the latter, sparking concerns among human rights activists who argue that this move contradicts EU norms.


EU Legislation and Meta’s Offer:

In October of the previous year, Meta provided users in the EU, European Economic Area, and Switzerland with the option of a paid subscription for an ad-free experience or continuing with the free plan, allowing data collection for targeted advertising. Human rights organization NOYB challenged this decision, contending that European law mandates a free option to decline personal information collection.

Recent Developments and Complaints:

Over the weekend, European users who hadn’t chosen a plan were automatically transitioned to the free plan with ads, a move deemed a violation of EU decision C-673/17, which prohibits default consent to personal data processing. A complaint has been lodged with the Data Protection Commission (DPC) of Ireland, the principal regulator for Meta’s European operations, notes NIXSolutions.

Current State and Ongoing Uncertainties:

Despite the involuntary shift to the free plan with ads, user data remains unused for targeting, and ads are not displayed to them, according to The Register. The duration of this status quo remains uncertain. Meta recently prompted European users to make another decision—whether to allow data sharing between Instagram, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger.