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Meta promises to virtually half Facebook and Instagram monthly expenses

A blue verification badge and the logos of Facebook and Instagram are shown in this photo illustration shot January 19, 2023

BRUSSELS, March 19 (mod1s) - Meta Platforms (META.O), opens new tab has proposed to practically drop its monthly membership charge for Facebook and Instagram to 5.99 euros from 9.99 euros, a senior Meta official said on Tuesday, a move that tries to satisfy concerns from privacy and antitrust authorities. 

The price decrease follows rising criticism from privacy campaigners and consumer organizations over Meta's no-ads subscription service in Europe, which critics claim demands users to pay a premium to preserve their privacy.

Meta introduced the service in November to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which inhibits its ability to tailor adverts for consumers without their knowledge, affecting its key income stream. 

The business claimed the price model aims to bridge the opposing needs of EU privacy rules and the DMA. 

"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," Meta lawyer Tim Lamb told a European Commission hearing.

"That is by far the lowest end of the range that any reasonable person should be paying for services of this caliber. And I believe that is a serious offer. The regulatory ambiguity at the moment is out there and it has to settle down immediately." 

Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems stated the problem is not about the charge. 

"We know from every study that even a charge of only 1.99 euros or less leads to a change in consent from 3-10% who actually desire advertisments to 99.9% that still click yes. The GDPR demands that permission must be 'freely' granted," he stated, referring to the EU privacy law.

"In truth it is not about the quantity of money - it is about the 'pay or okay' mindset as a whole. The sole objective of 'pay or okay' is to induce people to click on okay, even if this is not their free and honest option. We do not believe the simple adjustment of the amount renders this method legitimate." 

The day-long hearing intends to provide Meta's users and third parties the chance to seek clarification on how it complies with the DMA.

Meta presented the reduced offer to regulators early this year and is currently in negotiations with data protection authorities, notably the Irish agency. 

Users who accept to be monitored enjoy a free service subsidized by advertising income. 

Companies face penalties of as much as 10% of their yearly worldwide revenue for DMA violations.


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