Behavioral advertising: what it is and why Meta won't be able to use it

The concept of marketing e behavioral advertising refers to the practice of using data that reflects user behavior on a platform to display ads and carry out commercial activities based on the interests and preferences expressed by users based on their operations and online interactions.

Meta uses these systems to offer targeted and personalized advertisements. The data collected allows you to profile users and offer them personalized ads, potentially much more effective in the eyes of advertisers. If a user interacts with certain types of content or brands on Facebook, Meta can use this information to show related ads to these specific interests.

Behavioral advertising: Meta will not be able to use it throughout the entire European Union

Behavioral marketing and advertising have generated concerns related to privacy and the management of personal data. First of all because the use of such information has raised doubts regarding transparency and the tools that users really have to control their privacy online.

The Norwegian Regulatory Authority data protection recently established that Meta is actively monitoring, profiling and tracking the online activities of 250 million European users, across Facebook and Instagram.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company was clearly informed that their business model and the use of users’ personal data violate current European privacy regulations. Meta managers responded by clarifying that the company will in the future ask for explicit consent for the collection and use of data for the purposes of marketing and behavioral advertising.

Meta, however, has not yet introduced any changes and the Norwegian Authority literally blurted out: “illegal activities continue unabated. This is why we have chosen to submit the question to Personal Data Protection Committee (EDPB), which has now agreed on the urgent need for a permanent ban on illegal activities at European level“.

The highest European authority for the protection of personal data (EDPB) censures Meta’s behavior

The Norwegian Guarantor addressed the EDPB with information on Meta’s behavior and asked that the decision taken against the US giant at the level of a single country be extended to the entire territory of the European Union.

No sooner said than done. EDPB managers have decided to ratify the very harsh stance Norwegian. Specifically, the competent authority on a territorial basis, i.e. the Irish Guarantor (Meta’s European branch is based in Ireland), will impose on Meta the prohibition on the processing of personal data for behavioral advertising on the legal bases of contract and legitimate interest throughout the European Economic Area (EEA).

The severe limitation prescribed in the case of Meta will come into force in about 3 weeks: from then on, Zuckerberg’s company will no longer be able to use data that reflects the online behavior of each user to enrich their coffers.

EDPB Chairman Anu Talus said: “already in December 2022 the binding decisions of the EDPB had clarified that the contract does not constitute an adequate legal basis for the processing of personal data carried out by Meta for behavioral advertising. Furthermore, (…) Meta has not demonstrated that it has complied with the requirements imposed at the end of last year. The time has come for Meta to bring its processing into compliance and stop illicit processing“.

Meanwhile, Meta has tried to “mark its territory” by presenting a paid service to have Facebook and Instagram without advertising. The message between the lines is the following: to use the two platforms without sharing personal data, it is necessary activate a subscription.

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