Menu
EN

Meta’s rumored astronomical fee for Instagram and Facebook in EU: greedy much or just not serious?

When reports first surfaced that Meta was launching paid ad-free tiers for Instagram and Facebook in the EU, we were skeptical, to say the least. As much as we wanted to, it was impossible to take the news of Meta’s paid offering at face value, given that ad tracking has always been at the heart of the company’s business model. At the time, we were still waiting for details on how much Meta would charge for the great privilege of watching user-generated content without interruptions. And while we were happy to be proven wrong, we also had a nagging feeling that Meta was not serious about giving users a real choice between seeing ads and paying a reasonable fee. Rather, we felt it was more of a token gesture to placate the increasingly aggressive (and rightly so) EU privacy regulators challenging its data-hungry practices.

With the new Wall Street Journal report revealing how much these ad-free subscription tiers could actually cost, we had far fewer doubts about whether Meta’s offer was genuine or not: it wasn’t. The prices are not cheap, in fact they are so high that it seems pretty obvious to us that Meta never intended to offer a fair deal to its users.

So let’s cut to the chase, and dive right into the numbers.

Something does not add up

According to the report, Meta has informed the EU’s privacy watchdog in Ireland and digital competition regulators in Brussels that it wants to charge EU users a $10.5 (€10) monthly fee for using a single Facebook or Instagram account on desktop without ads. And if you want to use both Facebook and Instagram on your desktop (which would mean you’re in the absolute minority since only about 1.5% of people use Facebook on their desktop or laptop, while 98.5% use it on mobile devices), you’ll have to shell out extra $6.30 (€6) for an additional account. That means $17 to use both Instagram and Facebook on the desktop. However, if you’re more like the other 98.5% of people who prefer to use phones or tablets to access social media, you’ll have to fork over even more. On mobile, Meta reportedly plans to charge €13 per month ($13.6) for the ad-free access to one account, either Facebook or Instagram. And if we factor in an additional $6.30 (€6) for the remaining Instagram or Facebook account, the total comes to about $20 a month.

Screenshot from the WSJ report

Source: Wall Street Journal

Now, imagine you’re one of those people who occasionally uses Facebook and Instagram on both desktop and mobile. Apparently, if you want to enjoy an ad-free experience across all your devices in the EU, you’re going to have to tighten your belt, because the total amount you’ll have to pay is going to be… €10 + €6 + €13 + €6 = €35 ($36.7).

Of course, whether a certain fee is high or not is subjective. Some may argue that the price is not exorbitantly expensive, and that it is even a good value. So, let’s put things into perspective. For that, we’ll look at Netflix prices in the EU — depending on the particular EU country, the price can be lower or higher, so we choose Germany, one of the wealthiest countries in the EU per capita among the bigger states. The cheapest ad-free tier in Germany is Basic, it costs €7.99/month (compare to Meta’s €10 for one ad-free account) and allows watching movies on one device. The next cheapest tier is Standard, which costs €12.99/month. It allows you to stream on two devices and allows you to add extra member slots for €4.99 each a month (compare to Meta’s €6 for extra account).

Now, consider this: Netflix has a vast library of shows and movies, licensed content that it pays for and produces. It gives arguably much more value than Instagram or Facebook, which simply provide you access to user-generated content that Meta does not need to buy rights to (at least, not in the EU).

It doesn’t seem fair to pay more to see your friends’ and family’s posts without ads than to watch quality entertainment ad-free. Especially considering that, unlike with Netflix or any other streaming service where you are forced to sit through multiple ad breaks, with Facebook and Instagram you can at least scroll past ads in most cases.

And if you are suspicious of any attempts to compare incomparable, here’s another example — TikTok. The social media app is also reportedly considering an ad-free paid option, only that it is said to cost $4.99 a month.

But what if Meta simply wants to offset the per-user revenue it gets from showing targeted ads to Instagram and Facebook users? That wouldn’t make the fee more realistic, but it would at least explain its rationale.

Well, the issue is extremely tricky, and we can’t say for sure whether this is the case.

Screenshot from the Wall Street Journal report

In its earnings report for Q2 2023 Meta says that it makes about $17.88 from each person who uses Facebook and Messenger in three months. That means it makes about $6 from each person who uses Facebook in one month. However, these numbers are not very reliable, because while they include “all sources of revenue, the number of MAUs used in this calculation only includes users of Facebook and Messenger” and not the users of Instagram or WhatsApp. But they are the best estimate we have of how much Meta earns from an individual user. The Journal also points out that Meta reports an average revenue per user for a broader Europe region, which also includes non-EU countries that could bring the average down. For example, in Russia, which is also part of broader Europe region in Meta’s report, all advertising on Meta platforms has been paused since March 2022.

Average revenue per user reported by Meta in Europe

Source: Meta’s quarterly earnings report for Q2 2023

Why is Meta doing this?

Regardless of whether the rumored fees are comparable to what Meta is actually making by milking users’ data through targeted ads, it seems extremely unlikely that Meta really believes that its EU users are willing to shell out nearly $20 just to use ad-free versions of Instagram and Facebook on their phones.

The only conclusion that makes sense to us is that Meta is making a clumsy and very unconvincing attempt to persuade EU regulators that users actually have a choice about whether or not to trade their data for the access to the services.

The EU regulators have already forced Meta to seek consent from EU users for targeted ads. Under EU laws, this consent must be meaningful, but guess what would happen if Meta simply asked its users whether or not they want to be targeted by ads? Look no further than Apple and its App Tracking Transparency feature for the answer — only about 25% of Apple users opted into app tracking when they were faced with a choice. But since Meta does not want to lose the EU market, which generates between 21% and 25% of its global ad revenue, it had to give users some options, even despite its own volition. It seems like Meta’s latest cunning plan is to present users with a false dilemma: either accept ad targeting as usual or pay a ridiculously hefty fee for ad-free access. Besides, we cannot rule out the possibility that Meta will continue collecting your behavioral data and share it with third parties, even though it will no longer serve you ads based on that data on Facebook/Instagram.

It will be interesting to see how the EU regulators will react to this plan, and how much compromise they will accept. Will they allow Meta to get away with this, or will they demand more fairness (and perhaps lower fees) from the company? On our part, we hope they don't budge and will stand up for the rights and interests of the users.

Liked this post?

AdGuard for Windows

AdGuard for Windows is more than an ad blocker. It is a multipurpose tool that blocks ads, controls access to dangerous sites, speeds up page loading, and protects children from inappropriate content.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Read more

AdGuard for Mac

AdGuard for Mac is a unique ad blocker designed with macOS in mind. In addition to protecting you from annoying ads in browsers and apps, it shields you from tracking, phishing, and fraud.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Read more

AdGuard for Android

AdGuard for Android is a perfect solution for Android devices. Unlike most other ad blockers, AdGuard doesn't require root access and provides a wide range of app management options.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement

AdGuard for iOS

The most advanced ad blocker for Safari: it makes you forget about pop-up ads, speeds up page loading, and protects your personal data. A manual element-blocking tool and highly customizable settings help you tailor the filtering to your exact needs.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement

AdGuard Browser Extension

AdGuard is the fastest and most lightweight ad blocking extension that effectively blocks all types of ads on all web pages! Choose AdGuard for the browser you use and get ad-free, fast and safe browsing.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5

AdGuard for Safari

Ad blocking extensions for Safari are having hard time since Apple started to force everyone to use the new SDK. AdGuard extension is supposed to bring back the high quality ad blocking back to Safari.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5
App Store
Download
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement

AdGuard Home

AdGuard Home is a network-wide software for blocking ads & tracking. After you set it up, it’ll cover ALL your home devices, and you don’t need any client-side software for that. With the rise of Internet-Of-Things and connected devices, it becomes more and more important to be able to control your whole network.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5

AdGuard Content Blocker

AdGuard Content Blocker will eliminate all kinds of ads in mobile browsers that support content blocker technology — namely, Samsung Internet and Yandex.Browser. While being more limited than AdGuard for Android, it is free, easy to install and still provides high ad blocking quality.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Read more

AdGuard Assistant

A companion browser extension for AdGuard desktop apps. It offers an in-browser access to such features as custom element blocking, allowlisting a website or sending a report.
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5
Assistant for Chrome Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Firefox Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Edge Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Opera Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Yandex Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Safari Is it your current browser?
If you can't find your browser, try the old legacy Assistant version, which you can find in AdGuard extension settings.

AdGuard Temp Mail β

A free temporary email address generator that keeps you anonymous and protects your privacy. No spam in your main inbox!
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5

AdGuard for Android TV

AdGuard for Android TV is the only app that blocks ads, guards your privacy, and acts as a firewall for your Smart TV. Get warnings about web threats, use secure DNS, and benefit from encrypted traffic. Relax and dive into your favorite shows with top-notch security and zero ads!
User Reviews: 13011
4.7 out of 5
Downloading AdGuard To install AdGuard, click the file indicated by the arrow Select "Open" and click "OK", then wait for the file to be downloaded. In the opened window, drag the AdGuard icon to the "Applications" folder. Thank you for choosing AdGuard! Select "Open" and click "OK", then wait for the file to be downloaded. In the opened window, click "Install". Thank you for choosing AdGuard!
Install AdGuard on your mobile device