According to a New York Times report, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is considering launching paid subscription versions of its social media platforms that would not show users ads.
The ad-free options would only be available in the European Union (EU) and is likely a response to regulatory scrutiny and privacy concerns in the region. Sources familiar with Meta's plans said that users who pay for Facebook and Instagram subscriptions would not see any ads within the apps.
Meta will continue to offer free versions of Facebook and Instagram with ads in the EU, it said. It is unclear how much the paid versions of the apps would cost or when the company might launch them.
The move highlights how tech companies like Meta may need to redesign products to comply with new regulations, especially in Europe. Laws like the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Digital Markets Act limit how companies can use personal data for advertising.
Offering an ad-free paid option could help Meta address some of the regulatory concerns about its current business model, which relies on analyzing user data to target ads. However, it's uncertain how many users would actually pay for a subscription.
It is worth noting that Threads is not yet available in the EU due to the regulator's privacy concerns. Moreover, Meta took some action to prevent EU users from accessing its app via VPNs in July. The social media giant has not said when it plans to launch Threads in the EU, but the app may be available in the region later this year, especially with ad-free subscription.
Meta earns most of its revenue from selling targeted ads. European Union accounts for around 10% of the company's ad business, making it the second most lucrative region after North America.
Source: New York Times (paywalled)