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EU accuses Meta platforms of digital competition rules violation

Since November, Meta has allowed European users to pay for ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram to comply with strict data privacy rules. Desktop users can pay around 10 euros per month, while iOS or Android users pay about 13 euros to avoid targeted ads

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New Delhi: EU regulators accused Meta Platforms of violating the bloc's new digital competition rules by forcing Facebook and Instagram users to choose between seeing ads or paying to avoid them.

Since November, Meta has allowed European users to pay for ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram to comply with strict data privacy rules. Desktop users can pay around 10 euros per month, while iOS or Android users pay about 13 euros to avoid targeted ads.

This subscription model was introduced after the EU's top court ruled that Meta must get user consent before displaying ads. However, the European Commission's preliminary investigation found that Meta's “pay or consent” model violates the Digital Markets Act (DMA) by not allowing users to freely consent to ad targeting.

The DMA, effective since March, aims to prevent tech giants from monopolising digital markets. European Commissioner Thierry Breton emphasized that the DMA ensures users control their data and promotes fair competition.

Meta now has until March 2025 to respond to the commission's findings. If found guilty, the company could face fines up to 10% of its annual global revenue, potentially billions of euros. Meta stated that its subscription model aligns with the EU's highest court and DMA guidelines and looks forward to constructive dialogue with the commission.

Under the DMA, Meta is one of seven online gatekeepers, and Facebook, Instagram, and its ad services are among about two dozen core platform services requiring the highest scrutiny.

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