Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Instagram Charged For Scummy Consent Scheme

A close-up of Mark Zuckerberg during a trial pulling a sad / disappointed face
Credit: Bloomberg

A close-up of Mark Zuckerberg during a trial pulling a sad / disappointed face
Credit: Bloomberg

Despite being a new law, the European Union's Digital Marketing Act (DMA) has already hit two tech titans in the span of just a few weeks. Just last week, the EU decided to charge Apple, citing the DMA and stating that the company's steering policies were negatively affecting app developers, and now, Facebook and Instagram are being hit with charges.

After spending years in the spotlight as some of the best apps for iPhone and best apps for Android, both Facebook and Instagram are rife with controversies. Just over a month ago, an investigative report found AI-generated child abuse material on Instagram, and now, the EU is hitting the Meta-owned social media platforms with charges relating to the DMA.

In a preliminary ruling, the EU claims that Meta's "pay or consent" model for ad-free version of its apps violates Article 5(2) in the DMA. This is due to Facebook and Instagram's ad-free subscription costs that were introduced late last year, and by not giving users an option for adverts but with less targeting, the EU believes Zuckerberg's Meta is violating the act.

"The Commission takes the preliminary view that Meta's “pay or consent” advertising model is not compliant with the DMA as it does not meet the necessary requirements set out under Article 5(2). In particular, Meta's model:

  1. Does not allow users to opt for a service that uses less of their personal data but is otherwise equivalent to the “personalised ads” based service.
  1. Does not allow users to exercise their right to freely consent to the combination of their personal data."

According to the report from The Verge, a Meta spokesperson added "Subscription for no ads follows the direction of the highest court in Europe and complies with the DMA. We look forward to further constructive dialogue with the European Commission to bring this investigation to a close."

If Meta is charged with violating the act, the total fine could be 10 percent of the company's total revenue globally. That means, Meta could be facing a fine of up to $14 billion (yes, billion with a B), with further fines if the company continues to violate the DMA.

In any case, as the company behind one of the best VR headsets continues to make strange anti-consumer decisions, including the difficulty to disable Meta AI, it seems like the charges will keep coming. Hopefully, Meta can give citizens in the EU different options.

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