Pay for your privacy!

Recently, I clicked on the app of Instagram and a wall message popped up. I had to read it first and make a choice before I could use the app like I am used to. I find these sorts of messages always very disturbing, but the content of this particular message was even more disturbing than the message itself this time. 

Maybe you got the message yourself too. The message is about beginning a subscription or using the free version of Facebook and Instagram. This subscription that I am talking about, seems to be a new sort of subscription rolled out by Meta, namely one to use your accounts on Facebook and Instagram without bumping into advertisements all the time.  

To me, a student with a language major, it is also the way the message is written that caught my attention. The message starts with: “The legislation in your region is going to change. That is why we give you a new choice when it comes to how we use your data for advertisements. You will perceive more information before you confirm your choice” [my translation from the Dutch message]. 

The new choice is: to choose to pay for a subscription without advertisements or choose not to pay for a subscription and keep on using Instagram with advertisements (like we all do now).

But there is more to this subscription…

The last sentence of the (short) information about this new subscription is as follows: “Your data will not be used for advertisements” [my translation from the Dutch message I got]. 

That made me wonder: is this subscription about not getting distracted by advertisements any longer every time you use Instagram, or is this subscription about paying for your privacy?

The screenshot of the message I got, in Dutch

To me, at first glance, I thought it was about getting less distracted. And then I read the part about not having your data used for advertisement purposes and it hit me: no, wait, I am paying for not having my data used.

And since this is a new legislation, this means that at the moment we all accepted that our data is being used. And that is something I am aware of, but still, now we get this ‘other possibility’ it made me realize it even more, I think. 

Especially since this ‘other option’ is paying. To some people, this is not a choice. It is using the app for free or not using the app since a monthly cost of 12,99 euros is too much for some. I wonder if this could have any consequences regarding the population that will be using the app for some time. 

The worst case could maybe be that on the one hand, we have the people who are not able to pay for this privacy and whose data gets used because they do want to be included in the digital world, and on the other hand the more financially wealthy people who can permit staying in the digital world but also keeping their own data. 

And the third group, who signs off. 

What do you think about this ‘choice’ Instagram gives us? Is it really a choice? And what would you do or what alternative choices would you like to see?