The social media giant Meta has announced a significant change to its advertising strategy for European users. The parent company of Facebook and Instagram will now ask users in the European Union, European Economic Area, and Switzerland for their explicit consent to receive personalized ads. This move comes after a series of regulatory rulings challenged Meta’s legal rationale for using audience data to create user profiles targeted by advertisers.
Previously, Meta contended that it had a “legitimate interest” in processing users’ data for this purpose. However, under EU data laws, the company has conceded that it must seek user consent instead. The change was announced via a blog post, with the company stating, “We are announcing our intention to change the legal basis that we use to process certain data for behavioural advertising from ‘legitimate interests’ to ‘consent’.”
This decision doesn’t extend to the UK, as clarified by the UK data watchdog. The Information Commissioner’s Office is closely examining this move and assessing its implications for UK residents’ information rights. Stephen Almond, executive director of regulatory risk at the Information Commissioner’s Office, assures that they pay strict attention to how companies operate internationally and respect people’s rights.
Meta’s advertising-centric business model is already feeling the heat after Apple’s privacy change necessitated app developers to get user permission to track online activity for personalized ads. Johnny Ryan, a senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, believes that this switch represents a significant alteration in Meta’s business model. He anticipates that users are unlikely to consent to their data being used for targeted ads, suggesting that they can refuse some elements of Meta’s business while still enjoying the service.