Instagram Could Get Paid, Ad-Free Version in the EU: Report

Meta's Menlo Park office is seen with its logo in view.

Meta may be doing something that was once thought of as unthinkable: going ad-free — for a price.

According to a new scoop from the New York Times, the Facebook and Instagram owner is mulling over whether to offer paid, ad-free versions of its social media apps for users of both sites in the European Union amid increased privacy practice concerns. WhatsApp makes up the other major social app in Meta’s portfolio, but that service does not run any ads as is.

Following the EU’s passage of the General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R., in 2018, which added protections for people’s data, the social media conglomerate has faced increased scrutiny.

“Meta’s openness to creating paid subscriptions shows how those living in the European Union, which comprises 27 countries and roughly 450 million people, may begin to see different versions of consumer technology products because of new laws, regulations and court rulings,” the New York Times reports.

The information came from “three people with knowledge of the company’s plans,” according to the Times. The sources also claim that a free version with ads, as the social media site exists now, will remain available to EU users.

Meta has received fines over how it handles data and even floated the idea of leaving Europe entirely early last year. And just this past May, the company racked up a record-breaking $1.3 billion fine for mishandling data.

These concerns also seem to be the reason Meta’s X/Twitter competitor Threads has yet to launch in Europe.

As of last week, the Digital Services Act has taken effect in the EU, as the New York Times reports. The legislation aims to impede the sharing of illicit content online, adding another wrinkle for Meta. Next year comes the Digital Markets Act, which focuses on encouraging market competition.

PetaPixel reached out to Meta for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

The Times did not provide any information on when a paid version might be released should the company opt for a new tier system or at what price. Regardless of the outcome, this news, along with Meta’s recent history, suggests larger changes are in the works for Facebook and Instagram.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.