Jan 6, 2023

EU Rules Meta’s Ad Practices Illegal Under GDPR

Post by 
Evelyn Thompson

With the fate of your artist’s career in your hands, it’s critically important to understand the shifting landscape of data privacy laws, especially as the world moves toward a cookieless future. Recently, the European Union has ruled that social media giant Meta—the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp—is illegally forcing users to accept personalized ads, violating the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The decision includes a fine of 390 million euros ($414 million) and a three-month response period to become compliant before additional action is taken.

What is GDPR?

Going into effect in 2018, GDPR is a set of laws designed to give EU citizens control over how their personal data is collected, stored and used. Some of the key provisions include:

  • Right to be informed: individuals have the right to be informed about the collection and use of their personal data.
  • Right of access: individuals have the right to access their personal data and any information held about them.
  • Right to rectification: individuals have the right to have their personal data corrected if it is inaccurate or incomplete.
  • Right to erasure: also known as the "right to be forgotten," allows individuals to request the deletion or removal of their personal data where there is no compelling reason for its continued processing.
  • Right to restrict processing: Individuals can request the restriction or suppression of their personal data.
  • Right to data portability: individuals have the right to obtain and reuse their personal data for their own purposes across different services.
  • Right to object: individuals have the right to object to processing their personal data in certain circumstances.
  • Right not to be subject to automated decision-making: individuals have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects or significantly affects them.

Why has Meta been fined?

The heart of the issue has to do with how Meta receives legal permission from users to collect and use personal data for advertising purposes. Essentially, the opt-in language included in each platform’s Terms of Service agreement effectively states that users must allow their data to be used for advertising purposes. A user can’t create an account on any of these platforms without first agreeing to the Terms of Service, which effectively restricts service altogether unless the user “agrees” to their data being used for ads. 

The parent company has just three months to respond with how it will change its policies to comply with regulator demands, but any change made will likely involve giving users the ability to opt out of data sharing for targeted advertising. When Apple disabled Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFA) with the release of last year’s iOS14, only 25% of users chose to allow tracking. Given that figure, it’s safe to say that when given the option to do so, users will overwhelmingly opt out, which has enormous implications for the $189 billion ad business.

What this means for you

For years, the data collected and ad networks provided by social media have been the cornerstone of any artist marketer’s strategy. However, with fans clamoring for personalized connection, governments advocating for consent-driven data usage and audiences sprouting up across a fractured landscape of many platforms, you have to put a more proactive first-party data strategy in place. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself running more expensive ad buys to a dwindling audience.

Ready to take control of your data strategy?

For more information on how Fan Navigator helps you quickly kickstart your first-party data strategy without a massive amount of extra work, drop us a line below.