EU Privacy Battle: What’s Next for Facebook and Instagram’s “Pay or Agree” Advertising Options?

Luc Williams

It is about the one introduced on the platforms Facebook and Instagram “Pay or consent” service, where users can either agree to be offered information on the services personalized ads or buy a monthly subscriptionso as not to see any advertising messages at all.

EU advertising controls

According to EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) Gatekeepers, or technology companies with a dominant position in digital markets that are able to impose terms of service on their large user base, must obtain the consent of internet users to combine their personal data with other services, including advertising. If a user refuses such consent, they should have access to a less personalized but equivalent alternative.

“In the case of advertisements, if the internet user consents to the use of their data, they will receive a personalized advertising package. If they do not consent, they will still see advertisements, but they will not be sent to them based on, for example, their preferences,” explained Lea Zuber, the EC’s spokesperson for competitiveness, during the briefing.

Meta’s advertising model is not DMA compliant

The EC found that the measure introduced by Meta in November 2023 advertising model violates the provisions of the DMA, because users can either consent to advertising and then receive a personalized package, or pay for their absence. However, there is no alternative option, when there are ads, but advertisers do not use the data of Internet users. Therefore, “pay and consent”, according to the legislator, forces users to consent to the connection of their personal data with advertising.

The EC opened an investigation into the service in March of this year; it forwarded its findings to the parent company of Facebook and Instagram on Monday, and Meta will now have to review the documents and provide a written response. The EC has a year, or until March 2025, to conclude its investigation.

“Gatekeepers like Meta have been collecting the personal data of millions of EU citizens for many years. Our preliminary view is that Meta’s advertising model is not compliant with the Digital Markets Act. We want to empower citizens to take control of their own data and choose less personalised advertising,” said Vice-President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager.

Possible consequences for Meta for violating EU law

If it turns out that Meta is in fact violating EU law and the company does not correct the irregularities, the EC can impose a fine of up to 10% of total global turnover. The fine can increase to 20% if the violations are repeated. According to the DMA, in the event of systematic non-compliance, the EC can also take additional measures, including requiring the gatekeeper to sell all or part of the company.

From Brussels Jowita Kiwnik Pargana (PAP)


Luc's expertise lies in assisting students from a myriad of disciplines to refine and enhance their thesis work with clarity and impact. His methodical approach and the knack for simplifying complex information make him an invaluable ally for any thesis writer.