Meta fined over US$400 million by EU for alleged personal data collection violation


A European Union privacy regulator fined Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta more than $400 million on Wednesday, accusing the social media giant of illegally forcing users to agree to receive personalized ads based on their online activity—a potential major hit to the platform, which plans to appeal.

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  • The ruling by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission—Meta’s primary regulator in the EU—determined the company’s placement of legal consent within the terms of service forces users to accept targeted ads, and fined the company 390 million euros ($414 million).
  • Those agreements violate the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs the collection of personal information, according to the ruling.
  • The regulator found Meta’s claim that it could process users’ data over contractual necessity is not appropriate, giving the platforms three months to bring its data collection into compliance with EU law.
  • In a statement on Wednesday, the social media giant said it disagrees with the ruling, saying its approach “respects GDPR,” and that the company is planning to appeal the “substance of the ruling and the fines.”

In a statement, Meta said the decision would not keep Facebook or Instagram advertisers from reaching users through personalized ads in European Union member states. The company maintains its platforms are “inherently personalized,” and that providing ads tailored uniquely to users is a “necessary and essential part of the service,” adding it would be “highly unusual” for a social media platform not to be personalized to individual users.

The ruling stems from two complaints filed in 2018 over Facebook and Instagram data collection. Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy activist who filed the complaints with the advocacy group The European Center for Digital Rights (NOYB)—along with complaints against WhatsApp and Google—had argued Meta’s system forces users to consent to its privacy policies in order to stay on the platform. The EU had also fined Meta nearly $800 million in four separate fines over Facebook and Instagram privacy and personal data violations last year.

All $ values USD. This article was first published on

Further Reading

Meta Fined More Than $400 Million for Sending Ads Based on Online Activity (Wall Street Journal)

Meta’s New Year kicks off with over $410M in fresh EU privacy fines (Tech Crunch)

Meta’s Ad Practices Ruled Illegal Under E.U. Law (New York Times)