Facebook May Have to Charge European Users

facebook-privacy3One of Facebook’s primary goals is to keep the use of its site free. However, recent tussles between Facebook and European privacy lawmakers may force them to charge European users of the site for access. The crux of the issue is the lack of consent Facebook offers its users for targeted advertising. Many European privacy groups are uncomfortable with Facebook’s vast trove of user data, and there is a growing push to tighten the laws regarding the data privacy of Facebook users. However, if that happens, Facebook’s ad revenue would dramatically drop, thus putting them in the uncomfortable position of having to ask their users to pay for the privilege of a Facebook page.

“If they weren’t able to use your data in the way that is profitable or useful for them for advertising purposes, then either the user has to pay for it or stop using the service,” said Eduardo Ustaran, the head of the privacy and information law group at Field Fisher Warehouse, a technology-oriented European law firm.  “(They) wouldn’t be able to rely on legitimate interest and they wouldn’t be able to rely on consent.”

Facebook has previously declared that its usage will always be free, though the site has never faced a threat as potentially serious as this to their ad revenue. Readers: do you think Facebook is flexible enough to adjust is revenue model around privacy laws? Or do you think they can find a way to circumvent them?

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