Subscription: In a groundbreaking strategic shift, Meta Group, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is considering introducing a subscription model. The move could take the European Union into a new era of Internet use, while raising questions about what value people actually place on social media: A subscription fee or their data to be shown ads?
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Background: privacy and market prices
The motivation behind this potentially revolutionary change lies in the EU's efforts to regulate the use of personal data by Meta and other Internet companies. This has prompted Mark Zuckerberg to consider alternative models. The proposals presented provide two options for users: The first option is to continue using the platforms for free in exchange for accepting personalized advertising, where users pay with their data. This practice has generated significant profits for Meta to date. The second option is to choose an ad-free version, but for which a monthly subscription fee is payable.
Mark Zuckerberg is the founder, chairman and CEO of Meta, which he originally founded in 2004 as Facebook. He is responsible for setting the overall direction and product strategy of the company.
Facebook 13 EUR per month subscription fees plus 6 EUR for Instagram
The proposed subscription fees should not be underestimated. Access to a social network on a smartphone could likely cost EU citizens 13 euros per month. If someone uses both Facebook and Instagram, another 6 euros per month would be added. This would result in a noticeable financial burden for those who use both platforms.
Meta data center employees in Papillion, Nebraska.
The importance of this advance
Meta's planned subscription model could have far-reaching effects on the appreciation and economic significance of Internet services. Until now, the value of such services to consumers has been difficult to quantify because they are generally offered free of charge. The cost of providing additional users is almost negligible, which is why popular services such as Google and social networks are largely free and financed by advertising. As a result, their economic value remains hidden.
Meta Austin Office. When are subscription fees coming to Facebook and Instagram?
You get USD 100.00 per month on your account and you do without Facebook?
However, the subscription model planned by Meta could introduce a market price for the use of social networks and thus reveal users' actual willingness to pay. This could lead to a better assessment of the economic value of Internet services. Estimates show that this value could be significantly higher than what users currently "pay" for revealing their data. One study, for example, found that a U.S. user would have to be paid an average of $100 per month to give up Facebook. For sources, see below under Resources on the subject.
In addition, the planned subscription model could also illustrate the importance of data protection for EU citizens. Although surveys often show a high regard for data privacy, in practice users willingly share their data to enable personalized advertising. The subscription model could force users to determine the actual value of data protection for themselves.
Change in the Internet world and verified accounts
While Internet companies have been reluctant to introduce subscription fees, times could be changing. Comparable services like Netflix and Spotify have successfully introduced subscription models. Google already offers subscription models for services like YouTube Premium, and Twitter and Meta have taken similar steps. For a verified account, Facebook and Instagram introduced Meta Verified in February 2023, which costs USD 11.99 per month.
Users may first have to get used to the idea of paying for ad-free Internet offerings. Meta's experiment could be the start of an important development in Internet use, in which users are faced with a choice: Money or data. It will be exciting to see how people react to this experiment and what path the future of social media will take in the EU.
Resources on the topic
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