Meta Under Fire: EU Charges Over Ad Model Violation

The European Commission announced charges against Meta on Friday related to its “pay or consent” advert model for Facebook and Instagram, raising the stakes in an already ongoing slipstream of Big Tech scrutiny via European regulators.


The European Commission has charged Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, with having breached the agreed-upon rules of the Digital Markets Act set by the EU. Meta had been accused of breaching the rules with a new “pay or consent” marketing model that began in November 2023.

In this version, users in Europe must choose between viewing targeted advertisements or paying a fee to avoid them. This new method was Meta’s response after the EU ruled that Meta must obtain users’ consent before displaying advertisements to them based on their personal information. This ruling was a big challenge for the common way in which Meta generates income through the display of customized ads.


On the contrary, the EC claimed that presenting users with the option to choose between personalized ads and paying is not a real choice. The Commission wants users themselves to be able to use Facebook and Instagram without Flowability giving up their private data for advertising purposes and without having to pay.

Margrethe Vestager, EU antitrust chief, said: “We want to give users control over their very own data and let them choose a much less personalized ad experience.” If Meta is found guilty of breaking the DMA, it could be fined in the first category up to 10 per cent of its annual global turnover.

Meta responded by way of pronouncing, “Our ad-free subscription version complies with the best court docket’s path and the DMA. We stand prepared to paintings with the European Commission to resolve this problem.”  The European Commission will have until next March to complete its investigation. Advocates of privacy are too worried about the ad model of Meta. It’s just the latest of a handful of actions the EC has taken against Big Tech groups since the DMA went into effect in March 2024.


Nearly a week before hitting Meta with charges, the EU hit Apple with charges alleging the company violated DMA rules by no longer allowing app developers to redirect customers to alternative payment options. In May, the EC opened an investigation into Meta amid concerns about kids’ safety on Facebook and Instagram.

It had to introduce safety features into its CrowdTangle tool, which was to be tuned for misinformation ahead of the European Parliament elections in June. This move was to address concerns from the EU reached in April following an investigation on a Meta decision to phase out the device.

The EU listed 22 key offerings from agencies like Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, and ByteDance as “gatekeepers” in September 2023. Those companies had six months to comply with the rules of the DMA.


In November, Meta and TikTok tried to appeal the decision related to their gatekeeper reputation, but TikTok lost the appeal in February. In April 2023, Apple spoke about continuing to work with the EC in the process of complying with the regulations.

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