Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, is reportedly planning to charge European users up to $17 (£14) per month for an ad-free subscription tier.
The Silicon Valley powerhouse could offer ad-free Instagram and Facebook for paying subscribers while users wishing to hang onto free access must agree to targeted ads based on their personal data.
Meta will charge EU users $14 (£11.60) per month for mobile Instagram access, with a $17 fee for combined Facebook and Instagram desktop access also in the pipeline, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It follows discussions with EU regulators aiming to curb data exploitation by tech giants, particularly with regards to how much private data they can collect.
The proposed plans could encourage users to choose the free option and aid Meta’s regulatory compliance without major impacts on its ad business, a vital revenue stream for the company.
It is understood that the UK is unlikely to be hit by Meta’s potential charges, since it is not bound by the EU’s Digital Markets Act.
Under Europe’s Digital Markets Act, which came into force last November, platforms are banned from tracking users for the purpose of targeted advertising, without their permission.
However, if the UK’s own version, the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers bill, becomes law, it may mean UK users also have to fork out for their privacy. It is currently in passage through parliament.
A Meta spokesperson said the tech giant “believes in the value of free services which are supported by personalised ads.”
“However, we continue to explore options to ensure we comply with evolving regulatory requirements,” they added.
Shares in the US company rose 2.2 per cent on Tuesday.
The plans have triggered concerns from prominent privacy activist and lawyer Max Schrems, who said “fundamental rights cannot be for sale.” He has vowed to challenge the changes in court.