July 19, 2024

Meta’s Advertising Model in the EU: Opt-In Option on the Horizon

2 min read

Meta, the social media giant, has been making billions of dollars each year through its highly targeted advertising model, which relies on the personal data shared by users on its platforms. However, a recent report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that Meta might soon offer users in the European Union (EU) the opportunity to “opt-in” to these ads.

Currently, users in Europe have the option to opt out of personalized ads, but this requires them to complete a lengthy form on Meta’s help pages. Unsurprisingly, this process has resulted in a limited number of people choosing to opt out. However, if an opt-in option is introduced, users would be protected by default, meaning they would not be subjected to highly personalized ads based on their specific activities on the platform.

The proposed change in Meta’s ads consent policy is a response to an order issued by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) in January. The DPC’s order prompted Meta to reassess the legal basis of its ad targeting practices. Additionally, EU privacy regulators have been exerting pressure on the company, culminating in a record €1.2 billion fine imposed by the DPC in May for Meta’s transfer of user data to the US, which was deemed a potential violation of citizens’ privacy under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

If the EU agrees to the proposal, the new ads consent policy could come into effect within three months. This regulatory change could significantly impact Meta’s advertising revenue, as the European region currently accounts for 23% of its $31.5 billion in advertising revenue for the second quarter of this year.

However, privacy campaigner Max Schrems, who filed the original GDPR complaint against Meta in 2018, has expressed skepticism about how Meta will implement the new policy. Schrems emphasized the need for Meta to apply the consent requirement to all uses of personal data for ads, not just “highly personalized” or “behavioral” ads. He also highlighted that the GDPR covers all types of personalization, including factors like age.

As the EU tightens its grip on data privacy and the fines against Meta continue to accumulate, it appears that the social media giant may finally be feeling the pressure. The introduction of an opt-in option for ads in the EU could be a significant step towards giving users more control over their personal data and the ads they are exposed to.

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