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Meta avoids EU lawsuits by cutting Facebook and Instagram subscriptions – 2024-03-27 23:06:13

Initially, 9.99 euros were paid for the social network, now it is 5.99

In the English language there is a phraseology known as “Hobson’s choice”. The story of its origin begins in the 16th century and is connected with an innkeeper named Thomas Hobson. He owned a stable for his time in the city of Cambridge. There were 40 horses in it, which he rented out to local travelers. The seemingly large number of riding animals led the inn’s customers to think they could choose which of them to hire. However, to prevent wear and tear on his best horses and to ensure that they were all used equally, Hobson made it a rule that only the animal closest to the stable door could be hired. Thus, customers were faced with a Hobson’s choice, where only one thing was actually offered. I.e. what should be your desire is laid upon you.

The exact same strategy was applied to citizens of the EU and the European Economic Community last November when the information services company Meta introduced the paid subscription option. It provides the opportunity

facebook and instagram to be used without advertising

and prohibits billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s company from using our personal information to sell it to advertisers. However, if we choose to continue using Meta’s apps for free, we automatically agree to be targeted with targeted marketing and to have our personal information used to suggest products we might like. Simply put, we are charged a “tranquility fee” to ensure that our personal space on the web remains intact and private.

The initial subscription prices were 9.99 euros per month for accounts that are used through a computer, and 12.99 euros per month if subscribers use iOS and Andorid devices to work with Facebook and Instagram. Until March this year, the prices applied to all our accounts, and from this month it was planned to add a new fee of €6 for each additional account we use via computer and €8 for one we use via mobile devices.

The US tech giant introduced the subscription option after the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled last year that under the bloc’s strict privacy rules, Meta must first obtain consent before showing marketing content. The decision threatens the company’s ability to make money by tailoring ads to individual users based on their online interests and digital activity.

However, critics argue that Metta’s approach relies on

economic coercion to manipulate consumers

to give her access to their personal data, and that it is not in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) adopted by the EU, which requires consent to be given freely.

“The EU Court stated that the alternative to advertisements must be “necessary” and the fee “appropriate”. I don’t think €160 a year is what they had in mind,” said Mark Schrems, honorary chairman of the European Digital Rights Center NOYB.

In an effort to end criticism and legal battles with the EU over the right to privacy of its users, last Tuesday one of Meta’s lawyers, Timothy Lamb, said at a hearing before the European Commission that the company would make its subscription prices more affordable , cutting them almost in half – from €9.99 per month for a Facebook and Instagram account to €5.99 and with a smaller monthly fee for each additional account. The new cost of fees seeks to balance the conflicting requirements of EU data protection laws.

“We have been wanting to speed up this process for some time because we need to get to a stable state… so we have proposed to reduce the price from €9.99 to €5.99 for one account and €4 for each additional account,” he told the committee Lamb.

“This is the low end of the range that any reasonable person should pay for services of this quality. And I think this is a serious offer. Regulatory uncertainty is currently looming and it needs to be resolved quickly,” he added.

NOYB Honorary Chairman Max Schrems reacted to the news that Meta was offering reduced prices with a statement saying: GDPR requires consent to be given “freely”. It’s not really about the amount of money – it’s about the “pay or settle” approach in general. Its whole purpose is to get users to click “ok” even if it is not their free and genuine choice. I don’t think that simply changing the amount makes Meta’s actions legal.

The spokesperson of the company that owns “Facebook Matthew”, Pollard, confirmed that the statement by Adv. Lamb is right. But still

it is not clear whether the subscription price will actually be reduced or not

“We await feedback from the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), our lead data protection regulator in the EU,” he explained.

CPC Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle declined to answer questions about what exactly the commission was assessing about Meta’s pricing. He also did not provide an update on a broader assessment of the legality of Zuckerberg’s firm’s approach to obtaining consent.

“We cannot comment on this matter at this time as the evaluation is ongoing,” he said.

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