Advertising Consent: The Legal Decision That May Change Facebook

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Twitter may have a new daddy who’s seeking attention, but it’s Facebook’s parent company Meta and its headlines this past week that publishers should be keeping an eye on.

As the Magazine Manager Blog reported last week, a bipartisan bill that would have allowed news organizations to collectively negotiate revenue-sharing with Big Tech companies was swiftly dropped following Meta’s threat to remove news from its platforms altogether should the legislation pass. Meta’s take-their-ball-and-go-home game plan may have worked for this matter in the States, but in Europe, the company may soon face an entirely different reckoning that would upend its most basic advertising practices.

Reuters reports that the EU will soon bar Meta from running ads based on personal data unless there’s users’ consent. The matter stems from a 2018 complaint by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems.

“Instead of having a yes/no option for personalized ads,” Schrems said, “they just moved the consent clause in the terms and conditions. This is not just unfair but clearly illegal. We are not aware of any other company that has tried to ignore the GDPR in such an arrogant way.”

As TechCrunch explains, these complaints “take aim at the tech giant’s so-called forced consent to continue tracking and targeting users by processing their personal data to build profiles for behavioral advertising, so the outcome could have major ramifications for how Meta operates if regulators order the company to amend its practices.”

In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said the GDPR “allows for a range of legal bases under which data can be processed, beyond consent or performance of a contract. Under the GDPR there is no hierarchy between these legal bases, and none should be considered better than any other.”

Based on information provided by a person familiar with the matter, Reuters says fines may also be levied against Meta.

An official ruling is expected in the next month. How Meta responds — or is forced to respond — could change how users and advertisers utilize Facebook moving forward.


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