This week, Facebook’s advertising practices in Europe took a major hit when regulators ruled that it’s illegal for the company to force users to accept personalized ads. The decision, which includes a staggering fine of $414 million, could force the company to fundamentally reimagine how it does business across the world.
In its terms of service, Facebook includes language that effectively requires users to allow their personal data to be used for ads in order to sign up the platform. The European regulators didn’t specify how Facebook needs to change this practice to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, but it could force the company to offer users an opt-out feature. And if that happens, it could cripple Facebook’s valuable access to our info.
“We strongly believe our approach respects GDPR, and we’re therefore disappointed by these decisions and intend to appeal both the substance of the rulings and the fines,” a Meta spokesperson said. “These decisions do not prevent targeted or personalized advertising on our platform. The decisions relate only to which legal basis Meta uses when offering certain advertising.”
Though this ruling only applies to Europe, you can be sure it will have far-reaching ramifications in the US and beyond. If Facebook has to change such a central part of its business model in one whole continent, it will probably have to change it everywhere.
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