2022 was a rough year for Meta with shares of Mark Zuckerberg’s company dropping 64 percent by the end of December. And so far 2023 isn’t going much better. On Wednesday, European Union regulators determined that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — all owned by Meta, which is based in Ireland for tax reasons — had forced users to see personalized ads.
The policy violated an E.U. privacy law forbidding tech companies from collecting users’ information without their consent. The fine is hefty, the equivalent of $414 million. But more importantly, the ruling could cause the company to overhaul its ad business in the E.U., where it must now find new ways to advertise to its hundreds of millions of users on the Continent.
So, it turns out that a business based on not being transparent about accessing and selling user data may not be such a good idea.
New York Magazine put it this way:
|All right, challenge: Name a major tech company (that still exists) having a worse half-decade than Meta/Facebook? I’ll wait.|
|Ireland, acting on behalf of the E.U., decided to beat Meta’s dead horse even harder today, announcing that Zuck’s tire-fire corporation would be fined €390 million (that’s around $414 million) for illegally forcing users to accept personalized ads. It comes in the wake of privacy laws in Europe that restrict tech companies from collecting the data of users without their consent, and, you know what, I’m with it all the way. The law is usually pretty late to data theft and, likewise, it feels like the new policy is like damn near two decades behind, but a retroactive middle finger to Meta is kinda hard not to love.|
|As personalized ads become more of the flavor for tech companies — Microsoft filed a patent for technology that generates personalized ads for in-game content — government bodies have to at least act like users haven’t already given up all our privacy to billionaires.|